COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT ROOT CANAL THERAPY What causes a tooth to need root canal therapy and what is a root canal? Root canal therapy is necessary when the pulp of a tooth becomes damaged or infected. This can have a variety of causes: a deep cavity, a crack, or a chip in the tooth. In addition, a blow to a tooth may cause pulp damage, even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If damaged or infected pulp is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess. A root canal treatment consists of removing the pulp from the inside of the tooth, cleaning the area thoroughly where the pulp was, and placing a filling to seal the area. How long will my tooth last after root canal treatment? Our dentists only treat teeth that we feel have a very good chance of remaining as a healthy part of your mouth. While there is no guarantee of healing, the success rate of root canal procedures performed in this office is very high. If we think your tooth is not going to be amenable to root canal therapy, we will advise you of this at your consultation. Occasionally, after a tooth is treated with a root canal, it may require an additional procedure or removal. Will I have pain during or after this procedure? Most patients report that they remain comfortable during a root canal procedure. Please let us know if you experience any discomfort, so your dentist can stop and help you. Keeping you comfortable throughout every phase of treatment is our primary concern, although it is not unusual for a tooth to be sore or sensitive for a few days after treatment. An appropriate over-the-counter analgesic is usually sufficient to alleviate discomfort. A treated tooth may feel different for quite some time following root canal therapy. However, if you experience severe pain or pressure, please call the office. Normal symptoms following a root canal include: Tenderness, aching, or throbbing, which can be controlled by medication. Usually over the counter medication will be adequate, but sometimes prescription painkillers will be needed. Symptoms that would indicate a problem, which should be reported to your dentist would be as follows: Any significant pain or pain that is not well-managed by medication Significant swelling which could be an indication of infection Breakage of the tooth, or loss of the temporary filling How should I care for my tooth after the root canal is complete? You should not chew or bite on your tooth until you have it restored by your regular dentist. The un- restored tooth can fracture, so you should see your dentist as soon as possible to complete the treatment of your tooth following the root canal therapy. Until your tooth has been properly restored, it is at risk for breaking. The next step of treatment usually consists of a post or filling of some type, plus a crown to preserve and protect the tooth. This should be done promptly following the root canal procedure.