Root Canal FAQs
Root canal therapy is recommended when severe tooth decay, cracks, chips, dental trauma, or infection has damaged a tooth’s pulp. A root canal removes the infected or damaged pulp and thoroughly disinfects the inside of the tooth. The empty canal is then filled with bioceramic sealer & gutta-percha, both are biocompatible materials that preserve the tooth structure and prevent re-infection. Over 14 million root canals are performed every year.
What are the symptoms indicating I might need a root canal?
If you have one or more of the following symptoms, contact our office, as it is likely you need a root canal:
• Severe toothache, especially when chewing or eating
• Deep tooth decay
• Darkening of the gums
• Pimples or blisters on the gum line
• Chipped or cracked teeth
• Extreme sensitivity to hot or cold, especially if it lasts
• Tender or inflamed gums
What happens during a root canal?
At your first appointment, we examine the tooth and take 2D & 3D digital images. Then Dr. El-Refai will analyze your 3D image thoroughly with you & explain all your options.
If you are in pain, Dr. El-Refai will numb the area & get you out of pain. Most of the time the procedure will be scheduled on another day. You may also receive an Rx for oral sedation if you have dental anxiety. IV sedation is also offered through a dentist anesthesiologist, if needed.
The tooth will be isolated then Dr. El-Refai will make an opening in the top of the tooth to access the pulp. Then she carefully removes the pulp using specialized dental tools, like the surgical operating microscope & the Gentle Wave Multisonic Cleaning Technology.
The Gentle Wave procedure is a more effective way of cleaning teeth, including hard to reach areas such as the apical thirds & complex anatomies of the root canal system. The Gentle Wave technology predictably removes up to 99.9% of biofilm. The root canal system is then sealed with biocermaic sealer & gutta percha.
In most cases, a permanent filling is placed to protect the tooth & prevent coronal microleakage until your dentist can restore the tooth with a permanent crown if needed.
Is getting a root canal painful?
No. A root canal does not cause pain; it relieves it. During the procedure, the area is numbed, and any discomfort is mild once the anesthetic wears off. Patients are often surprised by how simple and comfortable their root canal is, particularly since they often have severe pain before the procedure.
How long is the root canal procedure?
Most root canals take about 60-90 minutes, but if the damage is serious or the tooth’s roots are long or complicated, it can take up to 120 minutes.
How long does it take to recover from a root canal? Do I need to take time off work?
It only takes 24-48 hours to recover from a root canal. During that time, you may have some minor pain, but this is easily controlled with cold compresses and an over-the-counter pain reliever.
What should I eat after a root canal?
Until your permanent crown (if needed) is placed, you eat a soft diet. Foods we suggest include:
• Smoothies, milkshakes, and yogurt
• Soup, mashed potatoes, and soft pasta
• Scrambled eggs
• Soft fruits and vegetables
• Hummus or peanut butter
• Cream of wheat or oatmeal
Avoid any sticky, chewy, or hard foods until your permanent crown is placed. When eating, try to chew on the other side, avoiding pressure on the treated tooth and temporary crown.
Is getting a root canal better than getting a tooth pulled?
Saving a natural tooth is preferable to extracting it. Once a tooth is pulled, the adjacent teeth may shift out of alignment. The tooth socket begins to collapse, and the jawbone deteriorates. A root canal preserves your bite and prevents jawbone loss.
How long does a root canal last?
A successful root canal can last as long as 20 years. Longevity depends partly on the type of restoration used after the procedure and any occlusal overload. A filling and full crown ensure a long life for the tooth. We always recommend seeing your dentist within a few weeks following your root canal for a complete restoration to protect the tooth. Also wearing a night guard if you tend to clench or grind your teeth.
Can a root canal fail?
In rare instances, a root canal may fail if there is resistant microorganisms in the root canal system or the restoration is not properly sealed, and a new infection develops due to saliva or bacteria. Also, occlusal overload could lead to fractures & root canal failure. Root canal failure is rare, with a failure rate of 2%-14%.
How much does a root canal cost?
It depends on the severity of the damage or infection, which tooth is being repaired, and the type of sedation used. Dr. El-Refai will review your case and provide you with a detailed, accurate price before scheduling your procedure.
Should I see a dentist or an endodontist for root canal therapy?
A root canal is an invasive procedure requiring dexterity and precision. While both dentists and endodontists perform root canals, endodontists have more training, sophisticated technology, and experience in the procedure. Your dentist may occasionally perform a root canal, while endodontists often do 20 or more root canals weekly. Dr. El-Refai has performed numerous root canals and can quickly respond if there is a complication.
Is there a danger of infection after a root canal?
As with any invasive procedure, there is a small risk of infection after root canal therapy. The most common causes of infection after a root canal include insufficient cleaning of the channels, saliva contamination due to insufficient sealing of the canals, and new trauma to the tooth. Do not ignore any signs of pain or infection, even if it is years after the initial root canal therapy. Although re-infection occasionally occurs, it is rare.
How can I avoid needing a root canal in the future?
Good oral hygiene is your best defense against future root canals. Flossing daily and brushing twice daily is essential. Regular dental checkups and professional cleaning are also important. Avoid hard, crunchy, and sticky foods when possible. Never chew ice, as this is one of the most common causes of tooth breakage.
Mouth injuries often lead to the need for a root canal. Wearing mouthguards for contact sports and night guards when sleeping if you grind your teeth at night can reduce the risk of tooth damage that could lead to a root canal.
Never ignore tooth pain. The sooner Dr. El-Refai can relieve your pain and correct the problem, the better you will feel and the higher the likelihood she can save your tooth. If you have any symptoms that indicate you may need a root canal, contact our office for an evaluation.
Call our office at Nivine Y. El-Refai, BDS, DDS, MSD, Inc. Phone Number 330-721-1350 to schedule your appointment.
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