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Peyman Vaziri, M.Sc., D.M.D., M.S.D.

Rachel James, D.D.S., M.S.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is an endodontist?

An endodontist is a dental specialist whose work is focused on the specific field of root canals. Endodontists have two or more additional years of specialized training in this area of dentistry.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a procedure performed on an infected or badly decayed tooth. The procedure consists of removing bacteria and infection from within the interior canals of the tooth. The canals are then cleaned and sealed.

Is a root canal painful?

The purpose of a root canal is to alleviate the pain and discomfort a patient experiences as a result of an infected tooth. Localized anesthetic is used to numb the area around the tooth while the procedure is performed. The numbness normally lasts 2-3 hours after the procedure.

Why is an exam needed first?

An exam gives the doctor a sense of the condition of the tooth and allows the doctor to determine the best course of action in order to treat and preserve the tooth.

What does an exam consist of?

During an exam, x-rays are taken and testing is performed on the tooth to verify its condition. Treatment options will then be discussed with the patient.

Why can't my general dentist do the root canal?

General dentists are fully capable and qualified to do the procedure. However, a general dentist will often be more comfortable entrusting the treatment to the care of an endodontic specialist who has more experience and specialized equipment.

Can I just get the tooth pulled?

The decision is ultimately up to the patient. The recommendation is to keep the natural tooth whenever possible. This will prevent future problems with the surrounding teeth due to added stress and strain. Typically, when a tooth is pulled, an implant or some form of replacement will be suggested for the health of the patient. Getting a tooth pulled can be very costly in the long run in terms of both time and money.

I just had an x-ray taken. Why do I need another?

An endodontist takes advantage of different angles to see alternate parts of the tooth. Often, these x-rays are used alongside those taken by a general dentist to provide more information before treatment.

What is an apicoectomy?

An apicoectomy is a surgical procedure, performed only after root canal treatment has failed. In this procedure, the infected root is accessed and treated from underneath the gum. This form of treatment requires several sutures to restore the gum tissue.

Do I have the option of being put under, using general anesthesia?

Local anesthetic is all that is needed for the procedure. IV sedation requires that the patient not eat or drink for up to six hours before the treatment. The sedation also takes significantly more time to wear off.

Why can't I get a permanent filling at the time of the procedure?

Since an endodontist is a specialist, he devotes his time to the specific treatment of root canals.

Do I need someone to drive me home after my appointment?

A driver is not required after the treatment, as only a local anesthetic is used during the procedure. The decision is left up to the patient's personal preference.

Can I eat before my appointment? Can I take my daily medications?

Patients can follow their normal daily routines regarding eating, drinking, and taking medication the day of their appointment, unless otherwise discussed with a physician. If the patient requires pre-medication, such as antibiotics, the prescribed medication is to be taken as prescribed.

Will I need time to recover? Can I eat afterward?

Most patients are able to return to work or their daily activities right after the procedure. Expect some soreness and/or sensitivity in the tooth. Pain will vary depending on the initial condition of the tooth. For the first 48-72 hours after the procedure, it is recommended to favor the untreated side of the mouth while eating to give the tooth time to recover.

Is it possible to need a root canal in a tooth that has previously had root canal treatment?

When the initial root canal treatment of a tooth fails, retreatment will be required in the same tooth. Failure of a root canal treatment can be caused by a variety of reasons and is not always preventable. Several reasons for a root canal failure include: delayed restoration of the tooth (following the root canal procedure), complicated canal structures that may not have been treated sufficiently during the first root canal treatment, or a cracked, loose, or broken tooth crown/filling which can allow new decay or infection to get into the tooth.