405-330-5458 - Office Hours: M - W 8am- 5pm Th 7am-3pm Schedule an Appointment

Frequently asked questions about root canals

Root canals are dental surgery to treat an abscess or infection around the root of a tooth. An infection typically begins on the inside of the tooth, which is called the pulp. When the pulp gets infected, that infection travels down to the root and causes the abscess, which is what causes the patient’s pain.

Root canals may also be needed if someone has a cavity that travels into the pulp or has a traumatic injury to a tooth that either exposes the pulp or causes the tooth to die. In such cases, it is necessary to clean out the bacteria or dead tissue with a root canal.

How do you know if a root canal is needed?

Your dentist will need to evaluate your tooth to determine if a root canal is needed. Common symptoms of tooth issues that may require a root canal include swelling, a bad taste in your mouth, spontaneous tooth pain, or sensitivity to cold that lingers for more than a few minutes. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, see your dentist.

Are root canals worth getting?

The success rate on root canals is higher than 90 percent. I always say they are worth it to stop the patient’s tooth pain, but everyone has different priorities. In some cases, extracting the tooth can be an alternative to a root canal. However, if there’s a chance I can save the natural tooth, that is usually the best course of action to take.

How long should an appointment for a root canal last?

The time varies based on the type of tooth we are doing the procedure on. If we’re doing a molar, it takes about an hour and a half. If we’re doing a front tooth or a pre-molar, then the procedure may only take 45 minutes to an hour. However, individual cases my vary, so it’s always best to plan some extra time for your appointment.

Are root canals painful? Are they safe?

When people initially think about having a root canal done, they think it is a painful procedure. However, the pain is usually happening before the root canal, not during the procedure. Having the pain in the first place is the reason why the root canal is needed, and the procedure actually alleviates the pain.

Following a root canal, patients may experience some discomfort, tenderness, and maybe some pain, but that will only last a day or so. Root canals are a safe and effective dental treatment. There is no research that shows any dangers to having a root canal.

What is aftercare like following a root canal?

Aftercare is minimal following a root canal. We usually tell our patients to not eat anything hard or chewy for the next couple of days to allow that tooth to rest and relax. We also recommend that they take ibuprofen or some type of anti-inflammatory for the next couple of days until they feel they don’t need it anymore. Sometimes we may need a follow-up appointment if the root canal is not healing well, but the majority of the time that is not necessary.