Endodontic FAQ

What is endodontics?

Endodontics is a branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association involving treatment of the pulp (root canal) and surrounding tissues of the tooth. When you look at your tooth in the mirror, what you see is the crown. The rest of the tooth, the portion hidden beneath the gum line, is called the root. Though the outer portion of the root is a hard tissue called dentin, the inside channel or “root canal” contains a pulp of soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems, can severely damage the pulp. When that happens, an endodontic specialist, such as Drs. Grote or Arif, removes the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform normally.

What is an endodontist?

Drs. Grote and Arif are endodontists – dentists who specialize in saving teeth by performing root canal treatment. Your family dentist is referring you to an endodontist because of his or her personal concern that you receive the highest quality care possible.

A dentist becomes an endodontist by completing two or more years of advanced endodontic training in addition to dental school. An endodontists training focuses on root canals and related procedures, and therefore Drs. Grote and Arif have had extensive training in managing and relieving tooth pain, diagnosing oral and facial pain, treating traumatic injuries, and performing root canal treatment quickly and comfortably.

Do root canals hurt?

Modern root canal treatment is similar to having a filling and can usually be completed in one or two appointments, depending on the condition of your tooth and your personal circumstances. You can expect a comfortable experience during your appointment. Following the treatment, you may feel some tenderness in the tooth or in your jaw. Your endodontist may recommend over-the-counter pain medication for these temporary symptoms. 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. For more information, see our After Your Root Canal page.

What can I expect at my appointment with Dr. Grote?

Drs. Grote or Arif will perform a few simple tests on your tooth at your appointment to confirm the recommended treatment. If root canal treatment is needed, you will be given a local anesthetic in order to keep you comfortable. A rubber dam, which is a small protective sheet, will be placed over your tooth to isolate and protect it. Drs. Grote or Arif will locate the root canals inside your tooth, remove the inflamed or infected pulp from the canals and carefully disinfect and shape them. The canals are then filled and sealed to prevent bacteria from re-entering.

I’m worried about x-rays. Should I be?

No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontic treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, that produces radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of already low dose conventional dental x-ray machinery. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to cotherapists via e-mail or CD-ROM. For more information contact Sirona Dental Systems, Inc.

What about infection?

Again, there’s no need for concern. 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 and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection.

What happens after root canal treatment?

When your root canal treatment has been completed, x-rays and a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. You will need to contact your dentist to have your tooth restored (usually with a crown or filling) within no more than two months following the completion of your root canal treatment. This is extremely important in ensuring the success of your root canal treatment.

How much will it cost?

The fees associated with root canal treatment depend upon the difficulty of the tooth, with molars typically being more challenging than teeth closer to the front of your mouth. The cost of root canal treatment is considerably lower than alternative treatments such as a bridge or dental implant.

We attempt to make every effort to offer payment options that will allow you to stay within your budget. For more information, please see our Financial Policy page.

What new technologies are being used?

Operating Microscopes:

In addition to digital radiography, we utilize special operating microscopes. Magnification and fiber optic illumination are helpful in aiding the doctor to see tiny details inside your tooth. Also, a tiny video camera on the operating microscope can record images of your tooth to further document the doctor’s findings.