A Guide to Getting a Root Canal

A Comprehensive Look

Root canals and the teeth that need them

There are three kinds of teeth that need a root canal.

The most obvious one, is the kind that hurts. You may notice pain during chewing, or when you are eating or drinking something hot or cold. You could have these, or other symptoms causing you discomfort.

The confusing one, is the tooth that used to hurt, but doesn’t anymore. An infection may have started in your tooth and that’s when you felt the pain. As the infection migrated down, your root may have been compromised. You may not feel pain anymore but the infection is still at work potentially affecting your surrounding teeth.

The last one, is the kind that never hurt. You may go to the dentist for a routine cleaning and your dentist may notice on your x-ray a sign or symptom of an infection. You may not feel any pain but an infection could be at work compromising your surrounding tooth structures.


Common Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain when chewing
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Ear or sinus ache
  • Odor
  • No signs or symptoms


What is a root canal?

A root canal is a procedure that removes all of the inflamed and infected tissue from the inside of your tooth. This allows your body to naturally heal and rebuild the damaged tissues.

How long should I wait to get my tooth checked out?

Get it checked out from your general dentist within a couple weeks of noticeable symptoms. If your symptoms are impacting your life or you need to take medication to manage them we recommend coming in sooner.

How should I try to manage the pain?

If the pain is severe we recommend coming into our office immediately. Every patient is unique and we will advise you on the best way to manage the pain. We are very flexible with scheduling and will get you in promptly.

You go to the dentist and they recommend you see an Endodontist

Your dentist will examine your tooth and determine whether you are a candidate for a root canal. They may give you a recommendation for  an Endodontist who can provide further diagnosis and potential treatment. This referral serves 2 purposes: to do further diagnostic testing to ensure a root canal is the right course of therapy and to meet the Dr. and team to make sure you are comfortable with the office.


Common Causes

  • Cracked tooth
  • Deep cavity
  • Previous dental work
  • Compromised immune system


Why do I need a root canal?

There is a bacterial infection and or inflammation inside your tooth, causing the nerve of your tooth to die off. If the infection isn’t stopped, it will move out of your tooth and into the bone, dissolving the surrounding tooth structures.

Can a dentist do a root canal?

Dentists are trained to do all aspects of general dentistry. There are different circumstances that may lead them to refer you to an Endodontist. This could be due to your anatomy, location of the infected tooth or risk of complications.

What is an Endodontist?

An Endodontist is a dental specialist focused on treating the inside of the tooth. In addition to dental school Endodontists have years of advanced training specifically in root canal therapy.

Consultation Exam

The consultation exam typically consists of the following four parts:

Part 1: A thorough review of your medical and dental history is taken.

Part 2: Testing of the teeth: examination of your gum tissue, the bony structure supporting your teeth, the teeth themselves and the nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth. We often times apply cold, heat or a small electrical current to your tooth to determine the status of your nerve.

Part 3: A scan of your tooth using a CBCT machine. This will allow us to see all the anatomy surrounding the tooth root and the root itself.

Part 4: A discussion with you on what the underlying cause of your signs or symptoms may be and what our recommended path of treatment is.

Schedule Today

Fill out our Request an Appointment form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.


How long am I going to have to wait to get in for an appointment?

Not long! We know it’s no fun being in pain. We try to accommodate our patients by offering same day appointments.

How long does the consutation exam take?

Every patient’s situation is unique but generally consultation exams range from 30-60 minutes.

Do most people that come for a consult end up getting a root canal?

Generally about 75% of patients we see for a consultation exam will need root canal therapy. There are about 25% of patients that won’t benefit from root canal therapy. Our goal is to make sure that we explain your options to you as clearly as possible so you can determine what will be the best choice for your situation.

The Root Canal Procedure

The actual root canal treatment consists of removing and disinfecting the space in the tooth where the nerve and blood vessels may be inflamed and infected. Using our highly specialized instruments ensures that we can visually inspect all aspects of your tooth to help ensure the best outcome.

After we determine the space is clean we fill the root with a bio- active filling (a filling that your body loves and will promote your body to heal that space).

After the procedure is completed we will take a final x-ray to ensure the quality of our work. We will work with your dentist to determine if we will place a temporary or permanent filling in that space.

Is this going to hurt?

The root canal itself will not cause pain, but if you are experiencing pain prior to the procedure, you may likely experience discomfort after.


How long does a root canal take?

Our office was designed solely to perform root canals, which allows us to minimize the amount of time the procedure takes while increasing the success rate of your root canal. Depending on the tooth your average root canal appointment is 90 minutes.

Do I need to miss a day of work/school?

Typically no, the procedure itself is very straightforward. However, if the infection itself is causing a large amount of discomfort prior to your root canal appointment, you may want to take the day off after you have your root canal to let your body heal.

Do you use anesthesia?

We offer three levels of anesthesia:

Nitrous (aka laughing gas),

Oral sedation (a pill) or

IV anesthetic to be provided by an anesthesiologist.

Patient safety is our number one concern and we are happy to discuss with you the best solution to make you the most comfortable.

Do I need someone to come with me?

If you choose oral or IV anesthesia you will need someone to bring you to your appointment. They should plan on staying for the duration of your appointment.


Recovery is highly dependent on your status prior to the procedure. If you are in pain, swollen or not feeling good before the procedure begins it could take a few days after until you feel better. Your level of discomfort will likely remain the same as before the surgery- so if you were working before you can likely work after.

If you weren’t in any pain prior to the procedure you will likely not experience pain after!

Recovery Time

After only a few days you should feel like your normal, pain-free self.


What are the take-home instructions?

For each patient we will provide a customized post- procedure plan to include; necessary prescriptions and instructions for when to use heat or cold on the affected area. It is important to allow your body the opportunity to heal and avoiding alcohol, drugs and smoking is imperative to this process.

Do I need a follow-up visit?

We would love to see you 6 months to a year after your surgery. If your schedule allows, we ask that you come visit to ensure the tooth is healing. We will reach out to you to schedule this visit.

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