Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Signs of Needing Endodontic Treatment?

Signs to look for include pain, tenderness to touch and chewing, or prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold. You may notice discoloration of the tooth, or possibly swelling of the gum tissue or even drainage. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms, and the need is diagnosed by your dentist through x-rays.

Why Does my Tooth Need a Root Canal?

In the center of the tooth, you will find delicate tissue called the pulp or the nerve. If this tissue becomes irritated beyond repair or infected then it needs to be treated with a root canal. The nerve can become irritated by things such as a large cavity that has entered the nerve tissue; a trauma, or from a crack that allows bacteria to enter the nerve of the tooth. These factors can cause the nerve to die, which in turn can cause the tooth to become infected as the body tries to remove the dead or dying nerve.

I Heard Root Canals Hurt a lot—is this True?

Root canal therapy is almost always performed because a tooth is causing pain from an irreversible condition. Root canal therapy is used to alleviate pain. Most people who have root canal therapy admit they did not experience any pain during the appointment and felt better afterward. According to some studies, the perception that root canal therapy is painful stems from early treatment methods used to perform the procedure. Advancements in technology and pain control make for a very efficient and comfortable procedure.

My Tooth Doesn’t Hurt—Why do I Need a Root Canal?

Teeth that require root canal therapy are not always painful. In fact, teeth that are already dead may require root canal therapy to prevent the tooth from becoming severely infected. Your dentist will examine your teeth thoroughly during your regular check-up.  It is usually during this routine appointment where your dentist will discover a tooth that has died or is on its way.  Tests used to confirm a dead tooth include:

  • Temperature testing
  • Percussion testing
  • Using a pulp vitality machine

Will completing a Root Canal take Several Appointments?

Root canal therapy is often completed in one to two appointments. Factors that determine the number of appointments necessary to complete a root canal include:

  • The extent of the infection
  • The difficulty of the root canal
  • Whether a referral to a root canal specialist, known as an endodontist, becomes necessary

Restoring the tooth after root canal therapy is necessary in order to ensure the tooth functions properly. The appointments necessary to completely restore the tooth, in essence, should not be considered part of the root canal process.

Why can't I just pull the tooth—isn’t that faster?

If you have been diagnosed with the need for a root canal, and you feel that is not an option for you, unfortunately the only alternative is to have the tooth extracted. Once infected, a tooth does not have the ability to heal on its own. Typically, pulling out a tooth and then replacing it with another restoration such as a bridge or an implant may be a more time-consuming and costly treatment in the long term.

Will my Insurance Pay for a Root Canal?

Insurance benefits are given to you by your employer as part of your salary in the form of a benefit. In the most common insurance coverage plans, root canal is considered to be a service that would be reimbursed, however it is up to the employer to decide what level of premium they wish to pay for your benefit. You should always call either your Human Resources or Insurance Company to clarify your coverage.

I was Referred to an Endodontist; does this mean that I Definitely need a Root Canal?

No. Dentists refer patients to an endodontist to help determine the cause of tooth pain or to determine the status of a particular tooth. In some cases, the cause of the pain is unrelated to an infection. In this case, the endodontist will make further recommendations in order to eliminate the pain