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Common Questions

Will I feel pain during and after the procedure?

Many endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulp inflammation or infection. With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report that they are comfortable during the procedure.

For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Follow your home care instructions carefully.

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 severe pain or pressure or pain that lasts more than a few days, call our office.

Will I need to return to your office for follow-ups after the procedure is finished?

Yes, for most root canal treatments, we recommend that patients return to the office 1 year after the procedure was finished. Our office will send a reminder notice to you when you are due for a recall appointment.

I am worried about x-rays. Should I be?

No. While x-rays will be necessary during your treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, which requires radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of traditional dental x-rays. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to your dentist via e-mail or diskette. Dr. Russell will be happy to answer any questions you have regarding x-rays and radiation safety at your consultation appointment.

What about infection?

Our office adheres to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association.  We utilize steam autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection.

What happens after treatment?

When your root canal therapy has been completed, You should not chew or bite on the treated tooth until you have had it restored by your dentist.  Radiographs and a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. The unrestored tooth is susceptible to fracture, so you will need to contact his or her office for a permanent restoration as soon as possible after the completion of your root canal.  Otherwise, you need only to practice good oral hygeine, including brushing, flossing and regular checkups and cleanings.

Most endodontically treated teeth last as long as other natural teeth.  It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery.  There may be some mild to moderate discomfort that can be handled with over the counter medications.  If a problem does occur, however, we are available at all times to respond.  You will receive Dr. Russell's cell phone number we you leave the office so you may contact him whenever needed.

In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment does not heal or pain continues.  Occasionally, the tooth may become painfuul or diseased months even years after successful treatment.  Often when this occurs, redoing the endodontic procedure may be needed and can save the tooth. 

What are the steps in the root canal procedure?

Endodontic treatment can often be performed in one or two visits and involves the following steps:

patientendo31. Dr. Russell examines and x-rays the tooth, then administers local anesthetic. After the tooth is numb, the endodontist places a small protective sheet called a “dental dam” over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure.

patientendo42. Dr. Russell will make an opening in the crown of the tooth. Very small instruments are used to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals and to shape the space for filling.

patientendo53. After the space is cleaned and shaped, Dr. Russell fills the root canals with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. The gutta-percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close the opening. The temporary filling will be removed by your dentist before the tooth is restored.

patientendo64. After the final visit with Dr. Russell, you must return to your dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.

patientendo7If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold the restoration in place, your dentist or endodontist may place a post inside the tooth. Ask your dentist or endodontist for more details about the specific restoration planned for your tooth.


More Questions?

Dr. Russell invites you to visit the American Association of Endodontist website, and click on the link Patients.

This link will take you to a directory where you can view videos and find out more information about endodotist and root canals.