Frequently Asked Questions

 

To help you understand the therapy at Endodontics Northwest we've developed some general information about what a root canal is, how it helps and other points that will interest you. If you have further questions about your treatment, be sure to ask your doctor.

What is endodontic therapy?

What causes pulp damage?

What's the benefit of endodontic therapy?

Who performs endodontic therapy?

Are there alternatives to endodontic therapy?

Can all teeth be saved?

How long will the tooth last?

Can endodontic surgery be performed to treat special endodontic problems?

Is my tooth dead?

How should my family dentist restore my tooth?

How much does endodontic therapy cost?

What is endodontic therapy?

Through endodontic therapy, your doctor removes infected or damaged tissue from inside a tooth. Once this tissue (the pulp) is removed, the pulp chamber and root canals are cleaned, filled and sealed.

What causes pulp damage? 
The most common cause is severe tooth decay or a fracture that exposes the pulp to bacteria that may cause infection. Other causes include traumatic injury, such as a blow to the tooth, a cracked or loose filling or repeated fillings in a tooth. Sometimes periodontal, or gum disease can be the cause of the problem.

What causes pulp damage?

The most common cause is severe tooth decay or a fracture that exposes the pulp to bacteria that may cause infection. Other causes include traumatic injury, such as a blow to the tooth, a cracked or loose filling or repeated fillings in a tooth. Sometimes periodontal, or gum disease can be the cause of the problem.

What's the benefit of endodontic therapy?

It saves a tooth or teeth, which would be extracted otherwise. Although the pulp is removed, the treated tooth remains functional: There is no real substitute for your own teeth, which are more effective for chewing and biting than artificial teeth.

Who performs endodontic therapy?

All dentists have some training in this area. Endodontists, however, specialize in root canal therapy only. In addition to dental school, they have two years of post-graduate training and/or have been certified by the American Board of Endodontics after passing a series of tests.

Are there alternatives to endodontic therapy?

Only extraction of the tooth. Replacement of a tooth with an artificial one often requires dental therapy on adjacent healthy teeth to protect them.

Can all teeth be saved?

Sometimes a tooth can't be saved. If the periodontal health of the tooth is poor and there is minimal bone left to support the tooth then endodontic may be inappropriate. If the root canals are inaccessible and can't be adequately cleaned, filled and sealed, then endodontic therapy may not be advised.

How long will the tooth last?

The tooth may be somewhat more brittle after therapy, but with proper restoration and care, it can last a lifetime. Proper dental care includes regular brushing, and flossing, proper diet and periodic dental check-ups.

Can endodontic surgery be performed to treat special endodontic problems?

Endodontic surgery is an important part of any endodontic specialty practice. There are many indications for endodontic surgery and if any of these conditions apply to your tooth, your doctor will discuss this form of treatment with you.

Is my tooth dead?

No, it is nonvital. That means it is no longer able to respond to such external stimuli as heat and cold. After a root canal is performed, the root still receives nutrients supplied from the bone and surrounding soft tissue.

How should my family dentist restore my tooth?

We typically recommend a full crown on posterior or back teeth, which will protect the biting surface from damage. Your family dentist is the best judge of the appropriate restoration for you.

 How much does endodontic therapy cost?

Cost depends upon the severity of the problem and the type of tooth. Molars with multiple root canals are more difficult to treat and usually cost more. Typically, endodontic therapy is less expensive than extraction and replacement with an artificial tooth.