Endodontic FAQ

What is endodontics?

Endodontics is a branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association involving treatment of the pulp (root canal) and surrounding tissues of the tooth. When you look at your tooth in the mirror, what you see is the crown. The rest of the tooth, the portion hidden beneath the gum line, is called the root. Though the outer portion of the root is a hard tissue called dentin, the inside channel or “root canal” contains a pulp of soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems, can severely damage the pulp. When that happens, an endodontic specialist removes the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform normally.

I’m worried about x-rays. Should I be?

No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontics treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, that produces radiation levels up to 75 percent lower than those of already low dose conventional dental x-ray machinery. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to via e-mail or diskette.

Do Root Canals Hurt?

In spite of what you may have heard, modern root canal treatment is similar to having a filling and can usually be completed in one appointment.  Following treatment, you’ll feel some tenderness in the tooth or in your jaw.  Over-the-counter pain medication will often resolve these temporary symptoms.  You can expect a comfortable experience during your appointment.

What about infection?

Again, there’s no need for concern. We adhere to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association. We utilize autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection.

What happens after treatment?

When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact his office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, however, we are available at all times to respond.

What new technologies are being used?

Digital X-rays

We use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, which produces radiation levels up to 75 percent lower than those of conventional dental x-rays. These digital images can be optimized and displayed on large computer screens, enhancing patient communication.

Operating Microscopes

In addition to digital radiography, we utilize special operating microscopes. Magnification and fiber optic illumination are helpful in aiding the doctor to see tiny details inside your tooth. 

Electric Apex Locators

A small computer, called an apex locator, allows us to precisely determine the length of your root, helping ensure that the root is thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom.  It can also minimize the number of x-rays needed to complete root canal treatment.


Ultrasonic instruments can be valuable in removing or loosening obstructions that would otherwise prevent reliable endodontic therapy.