FAQ’s

What is an Endodontist?

Endodontists are dentists with at least two additional years of advanced specialty education in diagnosis and root canal treatment. Because they limit their practices to endodontics, they treat these types of problems every day. They use their special training and experience in treating difficult cases, such as teeth with narrow or blocked canals, or unusual anatomy. Endodontists may use advanced technology, such as operating microscopes, ultrasonics and digital imaging, to perform these special services.

Is it better to have my tooth extracted or get a root canal?

Having your natural teeth, if possible, is the very best option. Nothing can completely replace your natural tooth. An artificial tooth can sometimes cause you to avoid certain foods. Keeping your own teeth is important so that you can continue to enjoy the wide variety of foods necessary to maintain the proper nutrient balance in your diet. Endodontic treatment, along with appropriate restoration, is a cost-effective way to treat teeth with damaged pulp and is usually less expensive than extraction and placement of a bridge or an implant. Endodontic treatment also has a very high success rate. Many root canal treated teeth last a lifetime. Placement of a bridge or an implant will require significantly more time in treatment and may result in further procedures to adjacent teeth and supporting tissues. Millions of healthy endodontically treated teeth serve patients all over the world, years and years after treatment. Those healthy teeth are helping patients chew efficiently, maintain the natural appearance of their smiles and enhance their enjoyment of life. Through endodontic treatment, endodontists and dentists worldwide enable patients to keep their natural teeth for a lifetime.

Endodontic Treatment

Will the tooth need any special care or additional treatment?

You should not chew or bite on the treated tooth until you have had it restored by your dentist. The unrestored tooth is susceptible to fracture, so you should see your dentist for a full restoration as soon as possible. Otherwise, you need only practice good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular checkups and cleanings. Most endodontically treated teeth last as long as other natural teeth. In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment does not heal or the pain continues. Occasionally, the tooth may become painful or diseased months or even years after successful treatment. Often when this occurs, redoing the endodontic procedure can save the tooth.

What causes an endodontically treated tooth to need additional treatment?

New trauma, deep decay, or a loose, cracked or broken filling can cause new infection in your tooth. In some cases, the endodontist may discover additional very narrow or curved canals that could not be treated during the initial procedure.

Can all teeth be treated endodontically?

Most teeth can be treated. Occasionally, a tooth can’t be saved because the root canals are not accessible, the root is severely fractured, the tooth doesn’t have adequate bone support, or the tooth cannot be restored. However, advances in endodontics are making it possible to save teeth that even a few years ago would have been lost. When endodontic treatment is not effective, endodontic surgery may be able to save the tooth.

Is retreatment the best choice for me?

Whenever possible, it is best to save your natural tooth. Retreated teeth can function well for years, even for a lifetime. Advances in technology are constantly changing the way root canal treatment is performed, so Dr. Bingham may use new techniques that were not available when you had your first procedure. Dr. Bingham may be able to resolve your problem with retreatment. As with any dental or medical procedure, there are no guarantees. Dr. Bingham will discuss your options and the chances of success before beginning retreatment.

What are the alternatives to retreatment?

If nonsurgical retreatment is not an option, then endodontic surgery should be considered. This surgery involves making an incision to allow access to the tip of the root. Endodontic surgery may also be recommended in conjunction with retreatment or as an alternative. Dr. Bingham will discuss your options and recommend appropriate treatment.

Endodontic Surgery

Will the procedure hurt?

Most endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of a toothache caused by pulp inflammation or infection. With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report that they experience no pain during the procedure. For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for sometime after your endodontic treatment is completed. However, if you have severe pain or pressure; or pain that lasts more than a few days, call Dr. Bingham.

Can I drive myself home?

Often you can, but you should ask Dr. Bingham before your appointment so that you can make transportation arrangements if necessary.

When can I return to my normal activities?

Most patients return to work or other routine activities the next day. Dr. Bingham will be happy to discuss your expected recovery time with you.

Does insurance cover endodontic surgery?

Each insurance plan is different. Check with your employer or insurance company prior to treatment.

How do I know the surgery will be successful?

Your dentist or Dr. Bingham is suggesting endodontic surgery because he believes it is the best option for saving your own natural tooth. Of course, there are no guarantees with any surgical procedure. Dr. Bingham will discuss your chances for success so that you can make an informed decision.

What are the alternatives to endodontic surgery

Each insurance plan is different. Check with your employer or insurance company prior to treatment.

How do I know the surgery will be successful?

Often, the only alternative to surgery is extraction of the tooth. The extracted tooth must then be replaced with an implant, bridge, or removable partial denture to restore chewing function and to prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. Because these alternatives require surgery or dental procedures on adjacent healthy teeth, endodontic surgery is usually the most biologic and cost-effective option for maintaining your oral health. No matter how effective modern artificial tooth replacements are-and they can be very effective-nothing is as good as a natural tooth. You’ve already made an investment in saving your tooth. The pay-off for choosing endodontic surgery could be a healthy, functioning natural tooth for the rest of your life.