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Q: What is endodontics?

A: Endodontics is a dental specialty recognized by the American Dental Association that involves diagnosis and treatment of the pulp space (root canal) and surrounding tissues of the tooth. When you look in your mouth you'll see the outer portion of your teeth. The rest of the tooth, the portion hidden beneath the gum line, is called the root. Though the outer portion of the root is a hard tissue called dentin, the inside channel or "root canal" contains the dental pulp which consists of soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves.

Q: What are the symptoms?

A: There are not always immediate symptoms. The patient may experience discomfort or pain, and then the situation seems resolved but may not be. Other signs of pain are prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, discoloration, and swelling or other tenderness In the gum area.

Q: How do I know I need a root canal?

A: Bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems, can severely damage the pulp. When that happens, an endodontic specialist removes the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth should continue to perform normally.

Q: Should I be worried about x-rays?

A: No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontic treatment, the amount of radiation exposure is extremely small. Our office uses digital x-rays which are 95% safer than regular x-ray exposure.

Q: How will Endodontic Therapy save my tooth?

A: The Endodontist will remove the diseased pulp, clean and shape the inside of the tooth (canal), and then fill and seal the space. Your general dentist will then restore the tooth with a crown, or by other methods, to full function. This will keep your teeth from shifting and prevent bone loss.

Q: Will there be pain during the root canal?

A: The tooth area will be anesthetized before the procedure begins. This will eliminate pain during the procedure. After treatment pain can usually be relieved with over-the-counter medications. Your Endodontist will instruct you on what medications to take as well as your overall home care routine.

Q: How much will the procedure cost?

A: The cost of an endodontic procedure varies with the complexity of each individual case.

Q: What is Endodontic Surgery?

A: An apicoectomy is a root end resection. This relieves the infection in the bony area at the end of the tooth. The Endodontist opens the gum area and removes the infected tissue, and may remove the end of the root. A small filling may be placed to seal the canal. This is done under local anesthetic with only a few stitches to secure the gum tissue. Within a few months, the bone heals around the end of the root. Appropriate pain medication will be discussed to alleviate any discomfort.

Q: What if my pain persists?

A: Your Endodontist will give you specific post-operative instructions on the do's and don'ts of your follow up care.

Q: What is the alternative to endodontic care?

A: The alternative to root canal therapy is extraction of the tooth.

Q: What happens after treatment?

A: When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact his or her office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth.