Why should I see an endodontist?

Endodontists are specialists in saving teeth, committed to helping you maintain your natural smile for a lifetime. Their advanced training, specialized techniques, and superior technologies mean you get the highest quality care with the best result — saving your natural teeth! If you’re experiencing tooth pain, have injured your tooth, it’s sensitive to hot or cold, and/or there is swelling around the teeth, gums, or face, please call our office to schedule an appointment. Dr. Hays and Dr. Calkins both completed two years of advanced training beyond dental school to become specialists in diagnosing tooth pain and performing root canal treatment and other procedures relating to the interior of the tooth.

What happens during a root canal procedure?

The first step involved in a root canal is numbing the inflamed or infected tooth and the surrounding tissues to ensure that you’re comfortable throughout the procedure. Next, the crown of the tooth is opened to allow access into the pulp chamber and roots of the tooth. Inflamed or infected pulp tissue is removed using a series of instruments and the canal spaces are cleaned and disinfected. In some cases, if a tooth is too inflamed or infected, the tooth may need to be medicated and treatment completed at a second visit. When the inflammation or infection has cleared up, the root canals are filled with sealer and a material called gutta percha to prevent re-contamination and future infection of the root canals. Finally, the access at the top of the tooth is restored with a filling material. In some cases, the tooth may require a crown and you will be referred back to your general dentist for that procedure.

Once your numbing wears off after your appointment, you may feel some soreness in the gums around the tooth and in the injection sites. Cold compresses and over-the-counter pain medications are usually sufficient for soothing any postoperative discomfort. While you can eat shortly after your treatment, you should stick with soft foods until you no longer experience soreness or sensitivity in the treated tooth.

What should I expect after my root canal?

The following advice is offered to minimize the amount of discomfort or any inconvenience, which may follow an endodontic procedure. These are suggestions, not absolute requirements, for every case. Some of the comments may not apply to your specific situation.

Your tooth and surrounding gum tissue may be sore for several days as a result of manipulation during treatment. As a general rule, if you had pain prior to the treatment then you should expect some pain after treatment. Occasionally two to four days after treatment you may have an increase in pain. This is NORMAL and no cause for alarm.

Do not chew food on the treated tooth until your root canal is completed and your tooth is restored with a permanent restoration. In most cases a temporary restoration will be placed. A permanent restoration, usually a crown, is required within 60 days to prevent leakage and reinfection of the tooth. Chewing on the treated side of the mouth, with only a temporary filling, may result in tooth fracture. Tooth fracture could compromise the ability to save your tooth. If the temporary restoration comes out of the tooth it is not an emergency, simply contact the office and the issue will be addressed. You should continue your regular dental hygiene regimen; be sure to brush the treated area unless otherwise directed.

Tylenol and Ibuprofen are very effective for relief of tooth-related pain. If you have pain that you cannot tolerate, swelling, or fever, please call our office immediately. If your medical history allows it, take 500 mg Tylenol + 400-600 mg Ibuprofen together every 6 hours, as needed. Do not exceed 4000 mg Tylenol or 3,200 mg Ibuprofen in a 24 hour period.

Please do not hesitate to contact the office should you have any questions or concerns (7-4:30 Mon-Thurs). Should you require emergency services after hours, contact Dr. Calkins or Dr. Hays.

Download Instructions

What should I expect during my first appointment?

Your initial appointment will consist of a consultation to diagnose your problem and discuss treatment options. This appointment gives Dr. Hays and Dr. Calkins the opportunity to review your medical history and medications to ensure you’re a candidate for endodontic treatment. Your endodontist will also obtain any radiographs needed for diagnosis and treatment.

Please assist us by providing the following information at the time of your consultation:

  • Your referral note and any X-rays, if applicable
  • A list of medications you are currently taking
  • Your dental insurance information to allow us to assist you in processing claims

IMPORTANT: A parent or guardian must accompany all patients under 18 years of age

Is root canal treatment painful?

Decades ago that may have been the case, but with modern technology and anesthetics you won’t experience any more pain than if you went to have a cavity filled. The pain from a severe toothache can be quickly remedied when an endodontist removes the damaged tissue through root canal treatment. In addition, endodontists are experts in pain management, and most cases can be treated quickly and comfortably.

Does root canal treatment causes illness?

You may find information on the Internet or elsewhere that claims a root canal treatment makes you more likely to become ill or contract a disease in the future – this simply isn’t true. This false claim was based on long-debunked and poorly designed research conducted nearly a century ago, long before modern medicine understood the cause of many diseases. There is no valid, scientific evidence linking root canal treatment to disease elsewhere in the body.

Is it better to pull a tooth than have root canal treatment?

Saving your natural teeth, if possible, is always the best option. Nothing artificial can replace the look or function of a natural tooth so it’s important to always consider root canal treatment as an option. Endodontic treatment has a high success rate and many root canal-treated teeth last a lifetime. Replacing an extracted tooth with a bridge or implant requires more time in treatment and may result in further procedures to neighboring teeth and supporting tissue. Dr. Hays and Dr. Calkins will discuss with you the prognosis, or likelihood of success, when treating your tooth to help you make the best informed treatment decision.