Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy is one of the most common dental procedures performed, with over 14 million procedures completed each year. “Endo” is the Greek word for inside, and “dont” is the Greek word for tooth. Thus, endodontics refers to the treatment of the inside of the tooth. A root canal therapy is the most common endodontic procedure.

The dental pulp is the soft tissue in the center of the tooth which contains the blood and nerve supply for the tooth. It enters the tooth from the bottom of the root(s) and extends to the center of the tooth through small canals. In health, the dental pulp supplies the tooth with temperature sensation and is responsible for the continued development of the root structure. When damaged, the dental pulp often causes pain that is felt as a tooth ache or temperature sensitivity. If the inflammation or infection in the dental pulp progresses, it can cause damage to the jawbone that supports the tooth. At this stage, the tooth is usually sore to chewing, and an abscess may form at the base of the root.

The procedure that restores the tooth and jawbone and allows the tooth to function normally is called a root canal procedure, often referred to as a “root canal”. The purpose of a root canal procedure is to remove any inflamed or infected dental pulp tissue, disinfect the inside of the tooth, and seal the root canals so that future infection is not possible. The typical root canal involves making a small access hole into the top of the tooth, which allows the endodontist to work inside the root canal space and preserve as much natural tooth as possible. Once completed, success rates are very high for root canal therapy and the tooth should last a lifetime if properly restored and maintained.

For more information on root canal therapy, please visit the American Association of Endodontists.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a root canal?

Root canals are the small passageways from the jawbone to the center of your tooth which contain the blood and nerve supply (dental pulp) for your tooth. When the root canal space becomes infected or damaged, it can cause damage to the jawbone that supports the tooth. To fix the problem, a root canal procedure is performed. During this procedure, the canals that exist within the tooth are cleaned, disinfected, and sealed to prevent future problems or infection.

Why do I need a root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is needed when the root canal system becomes damaged. Common problems that may lead to root canal damage are cavities, fractures, cracks, and trauma. It is important to identify the reason a root canal treatment is necessary to properly treat the condition.

Why should I see a Board Certified Endodontist?

Endodontists are specialists whose practice is limited to the treatment and prevention of diseases related to the root canal system and the supporting jawbone. Less than three percent of dentists are specialized in endodontics. Every endodontist has completed dental school and a residency program specialized in endodontics. A board-certified endodontist has completed an additional multi-year vetting process by the American Board of Endodontists which certifies that they are an expert in the field of endodontics. Board certified endodontists have achieved the highest degree of training and specialization in their field.

Will it hurt?

In general, a root canal procedure should be no different than having a filling or a crown placed. Our office uses advanced anesthesia practices to ensure that the area we are working on is numb before starting our work. Most patients are surprised at how painless the procedure feels.

How long does the procedure take?

Every patient and tooth are different, but in general, root canal treatments are usually completed in one visit within 45 minutes to an hour. Depending on the situation, some teeth require the treatment to be completed in multiple visits. If this is the case, we will place a temporary filling in the tooth until you can return to complete the treatment.

Should I just pull my tooth instead?

While extraction is always an option, it is often not the best option. Endodontists are trained to save the natural set of teeth when possible and have special skills and equipment to accomplish that task. Saving a natural tooth often results in a more natural appearance and a more functional mouth. In addition, saving a natural tooth is often less expensive and less time consuming than removing and replacing a tooth. At your visit, we will discuss all the options available and choose an option that fits your individual needs and desires.

What To Expect

Day of Treatment

On the day of treatment, follow your normal routine until your appointment time. Eating and drinking is allowed before the root canal procedure, and it is not advised to show up on an empty stomach. Wear comfortable clothing and plan to lay back in the dental chair for about an hour.

Every procedure starts with an exam to determine what treatment is required. Any required X-rays will be made, and we will explain any findings. We will ask about your symptoms and perform a thorough exam of the problem area. Treatment options and fees will be presented, and you will have a chance to ask all the questions you may have.

After numbing the area with local anesthetic, and checking to make sure you are completely numb, we will begin the procedure. A rubber dam will be used during the entire root canal procedure. We will ensure it is as comfortable as possible. During treatment, the doctor and assistant will work as a team while working through a high-powered microscope to complete the procedure. Expect the procedure to last approximately 45 minutes to one hour and fifteen minutes depending on the tooth. The procedure should be painless, and we will take every step to keep you comfortable. If you ever experience discomfort, please let us know immediately.

After the root canal procedure is complete, a temporary filling will be placed in the tooth unless your dentist has asked us to place a permanent filling. It is very important to avoid chewing hard or sticky food while a temporary filling is in place. Please call your dentist right away to schedule an appointment for the permanent filling.

Financial, Insurance, and New Patient Paperwork

Our office accepts all PPO dental insurance plans. We are an Out-of-Network provider, meaning we are not contracted, or, In-Network with any insurance company. We do not accept Medicare, Medicaid, or HMO dental plans.

Please remember that you are fully responsible for all fees charged by this office regardless of your insurance coverage. Although we are not a party to the contractual agreement with your insurance company, we do want to help you receive the maximum reimbursement to which you are entitled. As a courtesy, we will submit all claims to your insurance company on your behalf.

At all times, you can be confident that we will always provide you with our best services using the newest and best technology to improve your treatment outcomes regardless of whether you have insurance coverage.

Please also note that our office is a fee-for-service practice. This means that our patients pay upfront, in full, for their dental care at time of service. As a courtesy, we will submit all claims to your insurance company on your behalf and you will be reimbursed directly by your insurance company.

Our office works with a number of partners to offer financing options for our patients: Care Credit, Sunbit, Cherry. All options allow you to finance your treatment, interest-free. Sunbit and Cherry require no hard credit check. All major credit cards are accepted.

If you have questions about our financial policy or wish for our office to provide you with an estimate prior to your appointment, please call our office at (605) 961-9092.

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