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South Mountain Endodontics
Chad K. Molen, DDS, Certified, University-trained Endodontist
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   Root Canals
FAQ Display


(click a question to view the answer)

Do I need a referral to see Dr. Molen?

A referral is not required, but we do recommend seeing your general dentist to be sure that you are in need of root canal therapy.

What is a root canal?

Root canal therapy is when the individual root canals or insides are cleaned, shaped, and disinfected. They are then filled to seal
the inside of the root from the outside of the root. The root stays in the jaw bone. It is not removed.

Does Dr. Molen do any general dentistry?

No. Dr. Molen performs root canals, apicoectomies, pupectomies, pulpotomies and other procedures related to root canal therapy.

What caused my tooth to need a root canal?

Decay is the number one culprit. The deeper or larger the filling, the greater the risk. Other causes are the need for a crown or bridge
recession of the gums, trauma, and periodontal disease. The more a tooth is worked on, the less capable it is of healing. When pulp
dies, the body recognizes this dead tissue as foreign and attempts to dispose of it. This forms a pocket of inflammatory tissue in the
bone that shows up as a dark spot on an x-ray. This dark spot, often referred to as an "abscess" shows changes occurring in the tooth
and the need for treatment to prevent tooth loss.

What is an Endodontist?

Endodontists are dentists with two additional years of advanced university training in root canal procedures. Their practices are
limited to root canals and procedures related to root canal therapies.

I've been told I need a root canal, but my tooth doesn't hurt. Can I wait?

Pain from a tooth is an outward manifestation that damage has been done and will continue. Damage to a tooth can begin long before
symptoms appear. Once this process is set in motion, it cannot be stopped until root canal therapy takes place. In rare cases, putting off
treatment can lead to hospitalization. The condition of a tooth can deteriorate overnight leaving you in an emergent position. Along with
this comes swelling, severe pain, and in some cases time off from work. Severe swelling can prevent patients from opening their mouths
thus making it impossible to perform a root canal until swelling subsides. Intravenous antibiotics may be required and treatment is
delayed until swelling subsides. The tooth must receive root canal therapy as soon as possible.

My dentist put me on antibiotics. Will this stop the damage?

Antibiotics are prescribed in an attempt to clear infection and bring down swelling, if present, but have no affect on the dead pulp tissue.
The longer one uses antibiotics to treat a failing tooth, the less effective they become. Root canal therapy is the only way save a failing
tooth and improve your overall dental health.

I have a heart valve condition (murmur) or joint replacement. Do I need to pre-medicate?

Patients should speak to their general medical practioner or medical specialist prior to their endodontic appointment for
recommendations or pre-medicating.

How does your office prevent the transfer of disease from one patient to another?

We take this issue very seriously. At South Mountain Endodontics we use ADA and OSHA approved sterilization methods and universal
barrier precautions between each patient.

Do you cut off the roots when doing a root canal?

No. A root canal treats the internal canal leaving the outside in tact. The roots remain attached to the bone stabilizing the tooth.

How many visits does it take to complete a root canal?

The majority of patients can have their root canals completed in one visit.

My tooth had a root canal by a specialist and it is failing. What options do I have?

The majority of these can be retreated successfully depending on a few factors. Occasionally we can perform a successful surgery on these
as well to get a good long-term prognosis. Each of these must be examined on a case-by-case basis. The best course would be to schedule
a consultation with Dr. Molen where he can take radiographs and perform diagnostic tests and then explain your best course of action
and your options. It is always best to be informed about your options.

My dentist said I need a root canal, does that mean the tooth is dead?

Not always. Your tooth can be damaged beyond your body's ability to repair it, yet still be alive and causing you pain. It can also be partially
necrotic (dead), or totally necrotic. There are variables and each patient is different.

Can a root canal fail?

Yes, but our number one goal is to treat you with the care that will give you the highest success rate possible. The majority of our root canals have
not needed retreatment.

Will x-rays show healing immediately after a root canal?

No. Generally it takes between 6 to 10 months before healing shows on x-rays. However, full symptom relief is within a few days.

How do you determine if a tooth can be saved?

Patients recommended for root canal therapy may present with circumstances that indicate a lower success rate with retreatment or surgery.
These patients are always informed of that possibility before treatment and given all of the options available to them. Dr. Molen
believes it is important for patients to be presented with all of their options so they can make an informed decision about which
treatments will be most beneficial to their health in the long run.

What kind of symptoms can I expect from a failing root canal?

Sometimes there are no symptoms and the problem is inadvertently detected when your general dentist takes a radiograph. Symptoms, when
present include slight sensitivity to chewing, or a dull intermittent ache that becomes more constant and pronounced over time. Extreme cases
involve swelling of the jaw next to the tooth, which can occur very quickly, sometimes overnight. Any time you experience swelling on the outside
of your face due to a tooth problem, it is urgent that you see an endodontist to avoid complications.

My dentist said I have calcified canals. What does that mean?

Calcified canals are teeth that have a smaller than normal space inside the tooth or no space at all. Calcified canals take more time and cost
slightly more to treat because the diameter of the canal may be very small or non-existent thereby requiring smaller, different, and
sometimes multiple instruments to complete treatment. Sometimes a space must be created that was not previously there in order to treat
the root canal. The instruments used to treat these complications are more costly due to the exotic materials used in making them.

Why is there a price range for root canals?

Ranges in price are dependent on the severity of the case, number of canals the tooth has, amount of time it takes and the materials used.
Considering that you get to keep a functioning tooth for decades to come, the price is negligible when compared to other things we enjoy
on a daily basis that depreciate rapidly. Your teeth enhance your quality of life. You use them many times each day, and with adequate care,
you can keep them for the rest of your life. Few people can say that about a car, computer, even a house. Your teeth are an excellent investment!
When you look at it in that light compared to other, everyday expenses, you can't afford not to keep your teeth.

What is the success rate of a root canal procedure?

When you have a root canal procedure performed by a qualified endodontist, the success rate is around 97% long term for first time root canals
and slightly less for retreatment of existing root canals.