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Q. Why must I see an endodontist when my dentist also performs root canal treatment?

A. All dentists are trained to perform root canal treatment.  Endodontists are specialists who have obtained several years of additional advanced training to perform root canal treatment and other surgical procedures using available techniques including a high powered microscope.  Once fully trained, an endodontist will limit his or her practice to endodontic procedures.  As a specialist, an endodontist will see referred patients for all types of endodontic procedures from the routine to the complicated root canal. 

Q. Is root canal treatment painful?

A. The short answer is NO!  In fact, root canal treatment will often relieve the patient of the pain caused by an inflamed pulp.  With today's local anesthetics and modern techniques, root canal treatment is often described by patients as being a comfortable and painless experience!

Q. Once my root canal is completed, how soon must I visit my family dentist?

A. The answer is simple: as soon as is convenient for both you and your dentist!  The endodontist will place a temporary filling overtop your root canal which will act as a good seal for a few weeks to a month.  Once your treatment with your endodontist is completed, an appointment with your dentist must be scheduled. 

A temporary filling that has been "forgotten" overtop a root canal will likely leak with time and will lead to the re-infection of your root canal.  If this occurs, the root canal treatment may need to be redone or the tooth may need to be extracted.

Q. What are my options if I refuse root canal treatment?

A. The only alternative to root canal treatment is to have your tooth extracted.  A missing tooth must be replaced with an implant, a bridge or a denture.  Often replacement of a missing tooth is more costly than root canal treatment and other specific procedures necessary to restore your tooth to health.

Q. I may have cracked my tooth, can it still be saved?

A. Cracked teeth are commonly seen when teeth are extensively filled or in patients that tend to have a heavy bite or grind their teeth.  A cracked tooth often inflames the pulp and would necessitate root canal treatment.  The endodontist will have to evaluate the depth to which the crack has extended into your tooth in order to determine whether your tooth can be saved.  Nonetheless, when dealing with a tooth that has been compromised by a crack, the patient must be aware that the long-term lifespan of the tooth has been affected and all treatment provided to that tooth essentially "buys time" for the patient.

Q. Will I need to see an endodontist after injuring my tooth?

A. Depending on the type and severity of the trauma, your tooth may require root canal treatment.  You should contact your family dentist first to assess your situation.  He or she may refer you to see an endodontist to initiate root canal treatment and or to monitor the healing of the tooth in the bone.  Traumatized teeth usually need to be followed up clinically and with X-Rays for up to 5 years after the traumatic event.

Q. After root canal treatment, how long can I wait before my family dentist places a crown?

A. A tooth requiring root canal treatment is often weakened by the pre-existing large fillings or cavity that led up to the pulp inflammation and infection.  Back teeth having undergone root canal treatment are especially at risk of cracking with habitual biting and eating and are best protected by a cap or crown.

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