Root Canal FAQs

When a dental professional recommends a root canal, it is natural to have questions. To alleviate your anxiety and provide reassurance, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions about root canals below.

Does a root canal hurt?

No. We numb the area before beginning root canal therapy. Most patients return to their routine after having a root canal. There may be some sensitivity for a few days following the procedure, but this fades within a week or less. If there is any mild discomfort following treatment, over-the-counter pain is recommended.

Why choose a root canal over tooth extraction?

It is always best to save a natural tooth rather than extracting it. When a tooth is extracted, the surrounding jawbone begins to resorb, altering the contours of the face. The empty tooth socket may lead to shifting of the adjacent teeth, causing misalignment. Replacing a missing tooth with a bridge requires altering the teeth on either side, while a dental implant is expensive and time-consuming. A root canal preserves your natural tooth, which is better for your oral health and budget.

How long does a root canal take?

It depends on which tooth is treated, the infection’s severity, and the root system’s complexity. Most root canals take between 30 and 60 minutes, with more complex root canals taking up to 90 minutes.

Are root canals safe?

Yes. Root canals are safe and effective at preventing the spread of infection to other teeth and the jawbone. The success rate of root canal therapy is 98%.

When is a root canal needed?

A root canal is needed when bacteria have invaded the tooth’s pulp, usually due to a severe cavity, dental trauma, or a cracked tooth. The root canal removes the infected pulp and prevents the infection from spreading to the jawbone and surrounding teeth.

How long does a root canal last?

A successful root canal can last for a decade or more. With proper care, many root canals last a lifetime.

What does a root canal feel like?

It feels very similar to getting a filling, although the process takes a bit longer. We numb the area using a local anesthetic. You will feel a slight pinch when the anesthetic is administered. After that, you may feel slight pressure but no pain. After the root canal is completed, the local anesthetic will slowly wear off, and feeling will return to the area.

Who performs a root canal?

Endodontists are specialists in root canal therapy. While some dentists perform root canals, they only perform them occasionally. Endodontists perform root canals regularly and have years of additional training in advanced techniques in properly removing the pulp, treating the infection, and sealing the tooth to prevent further damage. 

Is a root canal considered surgery?

No. Root canal therapy does not involve cutting into the gums or surrounding jawbone. The pulp and roots of the tooth are accessed through the top of the tooth using a drill, similar to getting a filling.

What filling is used in a root canal?

When the pulp has been removed and the tooth’s canals are disinfected, the tooth is filled with gutta-percha, a bio-compatible, rubbery material.

When is a root canal not possible?

When the tooth is so decayed that the infection has spread to the jawbone and resulted in bone loss, tooth extraction is the only solution. This may also be the case if a large portion of the tooth is damaged, and it isn’t possible to restore the tooth and properly seal it with a crown to protect it against future infection.

How is a root canal done?

A root canal is a relatively simple procedure done in several steps. At Sarasota Endodontics, we perform root canal therapy, while your dentist or a dental restoration specialist will create and apply the dental restoration or crown after your root canal is completed.

Dr. Oyola begins by numbing the area and placing a dental dam in the mouth to isolate the infected tooth. She drills through the tooth to access the pulp and root canals. Then, she carefully cleans the canals and pulp chamber using specialized dental instruments. Next, she applies an antibacterial/antiseptic solution to disinfect the root canals, killing harmful bacteria.

Dr. Oyola then uses tiny dental files to shape the canals and clean them a second time to ensure they are ready to fill with gutta-percha, a rubber-like material. The gutta-percha replaces the pulp and root material and, when properly sealed, prevents future infection. She then fills the hole drilled in the tooth earlier to access the pulp chamber, sealing the tooth closed.

Dr. Oyola sends patients home with detailed after-care instructions and a prescription for antibiotics. While there may be minor discomfort for a few days, this is easy to control with over-the-counter pain medications.

How can a root canal be avoided?

Good oral hygiene is the best way to avoid a root canal, including:

  • Flossing daily and brushing twice daily
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid acidic foods and drinks
  • Don’t crunch ice or chew hard items
  • See your dentist regularly
  • Don’t put off getting a toothache checked out
  • Wear a mouthguard during sports

Can a root canal be done through a crown?

Sometimes. It depends on the severity of the damage and infection. The crown must be removed if it is damaged or the infection is too advanced. Dr. Oyola makes every attempt to preserve an existing crown when possible.

What are the alternatives to root canal treatment?

If the infection is severe or there is damage to the end of the roots, an apicoectomy procedure may be needed. This surgical procedure requires an incision into the gums and jawbone to access the root ends for treatment. If both a root canal and apicoectomy fail, tooth extraction is the only alternative. For most patients, a root canal is the best option.

If you are experiencing any symptoms that indicate you need a root canal or have questions relating to root canal therapy, Dr. Oyola will gladly answer them. You can schedule an appointment by calling our office at Sarasota Endodontics Office Phone Number 941-922-4948.