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 removes the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform normally.

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

No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontics 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 treatment?

When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact his office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide on 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.

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.

Who performs endodontic treatment?

Although general dentists are trained to perform endodontic treatment while in dental school, many general dentists prefer to refer patients to an Endodontist. An Endodontist is a dentist that received specialized training in endodontic procedures. Dr. Wolf received two additional years of advanced endodontic training after earning his DDS, and he has 15 years of experience in specialized root canal treatment. Dr. Wolf specializes only in endodontic procedures. This allows him to expertly and successfully provide endodontic care and optimizes the overall oral health for patients.  By selecting a specialist, you and your dentist are choosing the best possible care for your tooth.

Upon deciding to receive endodontic treatment, you are choosing to keep your natural teeth as a healthy foundation for chewing and biting for years to come.

How does endodontic treatment save my tooth?

Dr. Wolf removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the tooth, then fills and seals the space. After the root canal, it is extremely important to return to your general dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. After the restoration your tooth will function just like any other natural tooth. With good oral hygiene, brushing, flossing and regular trip to your dentist, your treated tooth can last for many years.

How can I tell if I need a root canal?

There are a few common symptoms that will most likely indicate that a root canal is needed.

  • sensitivity to hot or cold (especially hot)
  • throbbing
  • aching
  • pressure
  • discomfort when you bite
  • swelling
  • abscess
  • infection/fistula
  • fracture in the tooth structure

How long does the procedure take?

In most cases, a root canal is preformed in one visit. On average, this appointment usually lasts an hour and a half. The length of time varies dependent on the anatomy and complexity of the root canals.

Can I eat before my root canal treatment?

It is recommended that the patient have all normal meals and medications unless otherwise specified by Dr. Wolf at the time of the evaluation. Please bring it to the attention of Dr. Wolf and/or his staff if you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter.

How much will the procedure cost?

Dr. Wolf accepts many insurance plans. We understand that insurance can get confusing and we work hard to help you understand your benefits. Our front desk staff will be glad to answer any questions you have regarding your insurance. They will also provide you with the cost information specific to your treatment.