Answers some common questions about an endodontic procedure.
Why would I need an endodontic procedure?
Endodontic treatment becomes necessary when the pulp (commonly referred to as the nerve of the tooth) becomes damaged from decay, a crack in the tooth, gum (periodontal) disease and even repeated dental procedures. In addition, a blow to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If left untreated, the pulp inflammation or infection may cause you pain or lead to an abscess.
Signs of pulp damage include prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness of teeth to touch or biting and discoloration of the tooth and swelling. Sometimes, there are no symptoms. We will do a thorough evaluation to come up with a proper diagnosis.
Why would I need to see an endodontist?
Your dentist has referred you to us because he or she believes that your tooth needs to be treated by a specialist. We perform routine as well as difficult and complex endodontic procedures. Endodontists are also experienced at finding the cause of oral and facial pain that has been difficult to diagnose. To become specialists, we have completed dental school and an additional two or more years of advanced training in endodontics. With the most advanced instruments and techniques, we can complete many procedures in one appointment so you do not have to miss any more time than necessary from your work or personal life.
Will it hurt during or after the procedure?
Many endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by a damaged nerve (pulp) and/or infection. With modern techniques and anesthetics, almost all patients report no discomfort during the procedure. Seeking treatment early makes the procedure less complicated, so don’t wait. When caught early, treatment should feel no different than having a regular filling.
Generally for the first few days after treatment your tooth may be sensitive or sore, depending on the severity of the infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Please see Post-operative instructions under Patient Information. Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is completed. However, if you have discomfort requiring medication or discomfort that lasts more than a few days, we are available to respond at all times.
Now that the root canal is finished, what do I do?
After your treatment is finished, a record of your treatment and digital images will be sent to your restorative dentist. We recommend seeing your general dentist within 2 to 4 weeks to restore your tooth. Your dentist will decide what type of final restoration will be placed to protect your tooth. In certain cases, we will contact you for a follow-up exam to monitor healing. There is no charge for this visit.
Should I be concerned with the x-rays?
No. In our state-of-the-art office, we use an advanced non-film computerized system called digital x-rays that produces radiation levels 90% lower than conventional film-based dental x-rays; which are already at very low levels. These images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to your dentist for better communication between offices.
We take our own x-ray(s) from different angles to allow for proper diagnosis and treatment. We will take an additional x-ray(s) during the procedure to accomplish our goals. X-ray radiation is minimal, but we take only as needed.
We have recently added a 3-dimensional digital cone beam x-ray machine to enhance our diagnostic capabilities when necessary. The Kodak 9000D CBCT is a state-of-the-art unit with capabilities that are truly impressive.
What about infection control?
We adhere to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association. We utilize autoclave sterilization, barrier techniques and disinfectants to eliminate the risk of contamination.
How much will the procedure cost?
The cost varies depending on the complexity of the problem and which tooth is affected.
Generally, endodontic treatment and restoration of the natural tooth are less expensive than the alternative of having the tooth extracted. An extracted tooth must be replaced with a bridge or implant in order to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. These prosthetic procedures not only sacrifice otherwise healthy tooth structure of adjacent teeth (ie – bridge work) but tend to cost more than endodontic treatment and appropriate restoration.