Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Should I just have it extracted?
A: Nothing is as good as your natural tooth!
Saving your natural tooth should always be your first choice when dental care is needed. Nothing, not even the most advanced bridge or implant, can truly replace your natural tooth.
It is possible that Root Canal Therapy can help save a severely decayed tooth with a root canal, rather than having to have a tooth extracted. Do everything possible to save your teeth before considering extraction.
Q: How long will it take?
A: Because each patient and each tooth is unique. Root canal therapy can be a complex procedure, that may require several visits before the procedure can be completed.
Q: Why Does Tooth Pulp Need to Be Removed?
A: When a tooth’s nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, it breaks down and bacteria begin to multiply within the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other decayed debris can cause an infection or abscessed tooth. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the roots of the tooth. An abscess occurs when the infection spreads all the way past the ends of the roots of the tooth. In addition to an abscess, an infection in the root canal of a tooth can cause:
- Swelling that may spread to other areas of the face, neck, or head
- Bone loss around the tip of the root
- Drainage problems extending outward from the root. A hole can occur through the side of the tooth with drainage into the gums or through the cheek with drainage into the skin.
Q: What Damages a Tooth’s Nerve and Pulp in the First Place?
A: A tooth’s nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed, and infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a tooth, and/or large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face.
Q: What Are the Signs that a Root Canal Is Needed?
A: Sometimes no symptoms are present; however, signs you may need a root canal include:
- Severe toothache pain upon chewing or application of pressure
- Prolonged sensitivity/pain to heat or cold temperatures (after the hot or cold has been removed)
- Discoloration (a darkening) of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums
- A persistent or recurring pimple on the gums
Q. How often should I see a dentist?
A. The American Dental Association (ADA) guidelines recommend visiting a dentist at least twice a year for a checkup and professional cleaning. Our office also recommends a minimum of two visits per year.
Q. What should I expect during my appointment?
A. Please review the Procedures section of the website to learn more information about the steps involved in your next dental appointment.
Q. I’ve had a root canal before, but they say I need it again? Why would I need one again on the same tooth?
A. The purpose of performing root canal treatment is to disinfect the inside of the tooth. The final filling material that is placed deep inside the roots of the tooth is intended to provide the best seal so the tooth doesn’t become reinfected. Over time, this seal may begin to breakdown, allowing the tooth to become reinfected.
Q. Is my tooth infected?
A. In many cases, teeth can become infected. Often this infection is limited to the hard tissue of the tooth, however in more established infections, the tissue surrounding the roots of teeth may become infected. It is rare that an infection spreads beyond the area of the tooth, however occasionally this may occur. If you suspect your tooth is infected, it is always best to seek appropriate care.
Q. If my tooth is infected don’t I need antibiotics?
A. Infections within the tooth are unique from other types of medical infections. Because a tooth infection is confined inside the tooth, antibiotics which are in circulation through your bloodstream are not available to fight the infection in the tooth. In order to best treat an infection in the tooth, root canal therapy is performed. In the most severe cases, antibiotics may be prescribed.
Q. What if I have an emergency?
A. Please call as soon as you determine that you have an emergency. We will be glad to schedule promptly you if you have a dental emergency during regular business hours. After hours, over the weekend and during holidays, please call Student Doctor Coleman’s cell phone in the event of an emergency.