FAQs to set your mind at ease
Your dentist has recommended that you see an endodontist for a root canal. This may be a surprise or something you expected, and you may have questions about root canals. Let’s try and answer the most frequent ones right now.
What is an endodontist?
Endodontists are specialists in endodontics, a branch of dentistry that is involved with treating the pulp (root canal) and surrounding tissues of a tooth. Endodontists are the specialists who perform root canals and treat related issues. Endodontists receive two or more years of specialized training beyond dental school.
What is a root canal and why do I need to have one?
A root canal is a procedure that’s used to treat an infected tooth that is too far gone to take care of with a normal filling. In performing a root canal, the endodontist numbs the area, removes infected tooth pulp, fills the entire pulp cavity, and seals the tooth. The infection is prevented from spreading to other teeth or deeper into the nerves. Root canals often relieve tooth pain almost immediately. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth. If the infected pulp is left untreated, it can cause pain, lead to an abscess, and possible loss of the tooth.
Do you take out the roots?
No! A root canal procedure involves cleaning the space INSIDE the roots where the nerves and blood vessels are. This tissue is called pulp.
What causes pulpal inflammation or infection?
Pulp inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes. The most common is an extensive restorative history starting with decay, then multiple fillings or crowns over time. Traumatic injury including cracks or chips, or avulsion can also cause nerve problems within the teeth.
Is root canal treatment painful?
This is probably the most frequently asked question. The thought of a root canal instills anxiety if not outright fear in many people. But the days of painful root canals are long gone. A root canal treatment doesn’t cause pain, it actually relieves it—almost immediately, and tales of root canal pain are frequently exaggerated and often simply untrue. Today’s root canal treatments are virtually pain-free and usually require only one or two appointments. In fact, a root canal treatment is usually no more uncomfortable than having a filling. Many endodontists use state-of-the-art technology such as operating microscopes, digital imaging, ultrasonic instrumentation and fiber optics to treat their patients quickly and comfortably. With such modern techniques and anesthetics, the vast majority of patients report that they are at ease during the procedure.
My tooth isn’t causing pain. Why should I have a root canal?
Pain is not the only sign of an infected tooth. In truth, a root canal infection is often discovered through routine radiographs and/or clinical examinations. If your dentist recommends a root canal, don’t dismiss the treatment just because a tooth has stopped hurting or didn’t hurt in the first place. The lack of pain doesn’t mean the tooth is not infected. Some patients never experience pain with an infected tooth. Other patients may have a chronic infection that has not reached their pain threshold but nevertheless is quietly doing damage. And some patients may initially experience tooth pain and then it goes away on its own or with the help of antibiotics. But in all these cases the infection silently lingers on.
Would extraction (pulling the tooth) be a better alternative?
Not really. Saving your natural teeth is the very best option because nothing can completely replace your natural teeth. An artificial tooth may cause you to avoid certain foods; keeping your own teeth is important so that you can continue to enjoy the wide variety of foods required to maintain a nutritionally balanced diet. Endodontic treatment also has a very high success rate. Many root canal-treated teeth last a lifetime.
Should I be worried about x-rays?
No. X-rays are necessary during endodontic treatment, but we use an advanced digital radiography with radiation levels 90 percent lower than those of already low-dose conventional dental x-ray machinery.
How long does a root canal take?
The specific amount of time a root canal takes depends on the details of the procedure you’re having, and the tooth involved. We generally tell patients a procedure lasts about one hour. The treatment itself can often be done in one visit. At times, a second appointment may be needed.
What happens after my root canal is done?
When your root canal treatment has been completed, a report of your treatment will be sent to your dentist. You should contact the dentist’s office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion of treatment. Your dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth.
Is a root canal expensive?
Saving your tooth through a root canal along with appropriate restoration is a cost-effective process and is usually less expensive—and less invasive—than extraction and placement of a bridge or an implant. Cost will depend on your dental insurance coverage. Most endodontists can help with getting your insurance information and letting you know the cost of your root canal. If you do not have any dental insurance, there are often payment plans that can be worked out.
I’ve got to ask again, is a root canal painful?
Keep in mind that the thought of a root canal is scarier than the reality; the reality is easy. Don’t hesitate to contact our office and let us address any concerns you have. We understand your anxieties. And please feel free to ask as many questions as you want. You’ll find we are committed to your comfort, safety, and health.
About Professional Endodontics
Professional Endodontics has been exceeding the standard of care in Wayne and Macomb counties for over 50 years. The team specializes in treating issues with the inside of the tooth and goes out of its way to provide a safe easy environment for patients. Each member of the practice is dedicated to providing excellence in patient care and values high-quality relationships with referring dentists and specialists. Each endodontist at Professional Endodontics has been individually chosen as Hour Detroit Magazine’s Best Dentists. Thanks to contemporary advances in endodontics, Professional Endodontics is able to use innovative technology to treat and save teeth that have suffered damage to the soft tissue within the roots of the tooth.
Professional Endodontics offers state-of-the-art facilities in Clarkston, Clinton Township, St. Clair Shores, and Southfield. All locations offer the latest in advanced dental delivery systems, microscopy, and digital radiography.
6803 Dixie Highway
Clarkston, MI 48346
29201 Telegraph Road
Southfield, MI 48034
Henry Ford Hospital Medical Pavilion
16151 19 Mile Rd, Suite 101
Clinton Township, MI 48038
St. Clair Shores
St. Clair Professional Plaza
23829 Little Mack, Suite 300
St. Clair Shores, MI 48080