Frequently Asked Questions

What is an endodontist?

An endodontist is a dental specialist that has completed 4 years of dental school along with an additional 2 or more years of specialty training in root canals. Due to the lengthy and specialized education that an endodontist receives, they are able to perform all aspects of root canal therapy.

Do root canals hurt?

According to the American Association of Endodontists, the perception of root canals being painful began decades ago when the practice may have been more primitive. Today, with modern technology and better anesthetics, most patients report a pain-free experience and can expect very little discomfort. Our endodontists explain all procedures to our patients, which helps ease a lot of anxiety.

Do root canals require many visits to the dentist?

With today’s cutting edge technology, most root canal procedures can be performed in one or two office visits. Please remember the length of the procedure and the number of appointments depends on many patient specific factors.

Can antibiotics cure a root canal?

Unfortunately, the only way to cure a root canal infection is to manually remove the infection from the canal of the tooth. Antibiotics can be useful to suppress symptoms such as biting pain before the root canal and may even help prevent post treatment pain. However, antibiotics cannot cure a root canal infection because the source of infection is inside the tooth where there is no blood supply. Therefore, there is no mechanism to deliver the antibiotics to the source of infection.

Do root canals cause illnesses?

There is no evidence to support that root canals cause any type of illnesses. However, there is evidence to support the fact that people who have had root canals are no more at risk for developing illness than people who have not had a root canal.

If my tooth doesn't hurt, why do I need a root canal?

Many times a tooth can require root treatment even when there is no pain. Dentist and endodontists are trained to test a tooth and determine if the pulp has been infected or damaged. If a pulp has been infected or damaged, a root canal is necessary to save the tooth.

Do you accept my insurance?

In many cases insurance will pay for all or most of your treatment. When you call to make your appointment, have all of your information ready and we will be able to provide you with more information.

How much does it cost?

The cost associated with endodontic therapy depends on a variety of factors including the severity of the damage to the tooth. In general, it is much more cost effective to save an infected tooth as opposed to letting the infection spread or remove it and replace it with an artificial tooth.

Can I drive myself home after the procedure?

Most treatments are performed using local anesthetic and its effects do not impair driving. Nitrous oxide may be used for some patients and they too are able to drive themselves home because the effects subside within a few minutes of discontinuing.

Will I have to take any medications?

You may be given prescriptions for antibiotics, anti-inflammatories or pain medications for your comfort. Every patient is different and any prescriptions will be adjusted to suit your specific needs.

Is pulling my tooth better than root canal treatment?

Keeping your natural tooth for as long as possible is imperative for proper eating and chewing functions. Endodontic treatment, along with an appropriate restoration, is a cost-effective way to treat your tooth that is in need and is less expensive than extracting and replacing it.

Remember, endodontic treatment has a very high success rate and many root canal treated teeth last a lifetime! Placement of a bridge or an implant will require significantly more time in treatment and may result in further procedures to adjacent teeth and supporting tissues.

There are millions of healthy, endodontically treated teeth serving patients all over the world, even decades after treatment! These patients are able to chew efficiently and maintain their natural appearance of their smiles. Endodontists and dentists worldwide are able to work together to save their patient's natural teeth for a lifetime!

There are some cases, however, where the tooth cannot be saved. In this unique case, Dr. Sprague is qualified to offer the option of removal and replacement with a dental implant.

Do I have to see my dentist after my root canal?

It is very important to make an appointment with your dentist after your root canal. After the root canal is complete and the pulp is removed, your tooth is at risk for fracturing. A permanent restoration from your general dentist will protect your tooth from fracturing and becoming contaminated. This is why Dr. Sprague advises you to return to your dentist within 3 weeks after your root canal.

Should I be worried about radiation exposure from the x-rays?

We only take x-rays when necessary to provide the best treatment possible. Our advanced x-ray system is digital and produces radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than the already low dose traditional dental x-rays. These digital x-rays can be printed, optimized, and emailed to your dentists when indicated.

What happens after my root canal treatment?

When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact their office for an appointment within 3 weeks of completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, however, we are available at all times to respond.