• FAQs

  • What is a root canal (aka Endodontic Therapy)?

    root canal is the space within the root of a tooth. It is part of a naturally occurring space within a tooth that consists of the pulp chamber (within the coronal part of the tooth), the main canal(s), and more intricate anatomical branches that may connect the root canals to each other or to the surface of the root.

    The smaller branches, referred to as accessory canals, are most frequently found near the root end (apex) but may be encountered anywhere along the root length. There may be one or two main canals within each root. Some teeth have more variable internal anatomy than others. This space is filled with a highly vascularized, loose connective tissue, the dental pulp.

    Root canal is also a colloquial term for a dental operation, endodontic therapy, wherein the pulp is cleaned out, the space disinfected and then filled.

    How long does a root canal procedure take?
    Short answer – about an hour, however it varies by which tooth is being treated, the anatomy of the tooth, the condition the tooth is in and number of other factors.

    Why get a Cat Scan (CBCT)?
     A Cone Beam Computerized Tomography (CBCT) – is a three dimensional small field low exposure imaging tool which  provides useful information with respect to soft tissue,tooth, as well as well as nearby anatomical structures in 3-D which can be used by your General Dentist or Specialist. This information is typically not available with traditional radiographs (x-rays). We use this technology in all re-treatement and complex cases before treatment occurs.

    Are root canals painful?
     Short answer – Patients are comfortable during the procedure however there can be some post-operative sensitivity.  It varies from patient to patient.  Pain management is one of our top priorities during your procedure.  For this reason, we offer IV Sedation, Oral Sedation, Nitrous Oxide as well as Local Anesthetic.

    What is IV Sedation?
    Also known as conscious sedation, this service puts a patient in a near dream state.  Patients are still able to respond to commands and answer questions, however will not retain a memory of the event.  After emerging from the procedure patients commonly feel refreshed as if they just work from a nap.  Although this is a very safe option  is a State licensed  element that can only be preformed by a specially trained doctor.   Believe it or not more that 20% of the population avoids visiting a Dentist out of fear.  With IV Sedation, fear no more.

    What types of insurances do you accept?
    We are constantly updating our insurance acceptance. Not all providers may be listed.  We strive to work in-network with most providers, however plans vary and should be confirmed prior to services.

    PPOs (In Network) HMOs


    American Health Guard



    Blue Cross

    Blue Shield

    California Dental Network


    Delta Dental

    Dental Benefit Providers

    Dental Wellness Partners


    First Dental Health



    Golden West


    Humana Dental  


    Principal Financial

    Premier Access

    Southwest Administrators

    United Concordia

    United Health Care



    Blue Shield


    Dental Benefit Providers

    Delta Care PMI

    Dental Health Services


    Managed Dental Care


    Pacific Union Dental

    Premier Access


    Secure Horizons

    United Concordia

    United Health Care


    Why me – or was there something I could have done to prevent having a root canal?

    Most often, there is nothing a patient could do to prevent the need for a root canal. It is the body’s response to trauma, which could be in the form of a cavity, accident, grinding, braces or recent or repeated dental work. The nerve is unable to heal completely. If left untreated it may result in an abscess.

    Do you take the whole tooth or the root out?

    No, neither. The tooth is made up of enamel (the part you see), dentin (the substructure) and the pulp tissue (nerve and blood supply). When a root canal is done, only the damaged or dead pulp tissue is removed.

    Why doesn’t my dentist do my root canal?

    Many dentists perform root canal therapy for their patients. However, specialists have additional training in diagnosis and treatment of both routine and complex cases. Most Endodontists use a surgical operating microscope to aid in treatment.

    Will I feel anything while you work?

    With today’s advances in anesthesia, the majority of patient’s will experience a pain free appointment. There are a few instances where profound anesthesia is not as easily obtained. These patient’s can be comfortably treated with oral sedation or if needed, we can make arrangements with an anesthesiologist for IV sedation.

    How long will I be numb?

    Many things affect the duration of anesthetic. In order to be comfortable, you should be numb throughout the appointment, and often for an additional hour or two.

    Will I need a crown on my tooth afterward?

    Most posterior (back) teeth will require some type of crown. Some front teeth may be restored with only a filling. This decision is dependant on the amount of remaining tooth structure and will be determined by your dentist.

    Why doesn’t the Endodontist do the final filling?

    As a specialist, we are asked to provide treatment for the sick tooth, not for the restorative aspect. The dentist has all the supplies to provide you with the best restoration possible for your particular situation.

    What is a root canal?

    A root canal is a procedure done in order to save a tooth that otherwise would need to be extracted. When a tooth is decayed or there is a crack, bacteria can get to the pulp. The pulp becomes inflamed and causes pain. During a root canal the Endodontist will remove the damaged pulp tissue, clean and shape the canal space in order to place a filling that will seal the root. After the root canal is completed, the tooth will need to have a restoration placed by your dentist in a timely manner. This will allow the tooth to continue to function normally.

    How long will it take?

    If possible, your root canal will be completed in a single visit which takes approximately 60-90 minutes. There may be instances when this cannot be done and an additional appointment will be required.

    Will I need antibiotics?

    Typically, you will not need antibiotics after the root canal because the pulp tissue, which is the source of the problem, has been removed. If there is swelling, redness or fever, a patient will be placed on antibiotics. There are also some instances where a patient will take antibiotics before their dental treatment.

    How much will a root canal cost?

    It is not possible to give a price for treatment without seeing the patient. The cost varies depending on the location of the tooth, the severity of the problem, and the precise treatment provided. For example, a back tooth (molar) is more difficult to treat and this will usually be reflected in a slightly higher cost. However, our fees are within the usual and customary range. Insurance often will cover a portion of this fee. Our staff will be happy to file insurance claims for you and will be happy to answer any additional questions you may have. Generally, the endodontic treatment and subsequent restoration of the natural tooth are less expensive than the alternative of having the tooth extracted and replaced by either a traditional bridge or an implant, which will be needed to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting.

    Do I need to have the root canal pre-authorized?

    Because root canals are often associated with discomfort and present without warning, they are considered a dental emergency, and insurance companies seldom require pre-authorization. If there is any question, our staff will be glad to assist you t best to check with your insurance company prior to treatment.

    Will my insurance pay for the root canal?

    Endodontic treatment is almost always a covered benefit. Coverage is determined by the contract between the insurance company and the employer. The dentist has no say in what procedures are included or the amount covered by the dental benefit packages.

    How soon can I eat (exercise etc.) after my root canal?

    To avoid biting the cheek or tongue, you may wish to wait until you are no longer numb. If your work-out includes a cardiac component, you may want to wait in order to avoid throbbing in the area. A return to your personal normal routine is frequently possible within only a day or two.

    Will I be awake?

    You will have local anesthetic which will numb the tooth but you will be awake during the treatment. This is good because it helps the dentist to monitor how you are feeling. If there is any discomfort, the doctor can then administer additional anesthetic, reducing the post operative discomfort.

    How do you really know I need a root canal?

    Depending on the symptoms a patient has, it may be very easy to diagnose the need for a root canal. If the symptoms are vague, the dentist has several tests that can be done, in addition to a clinical exam and review of x-rays. Combined, these should provide a clear diagnosis. If it is not possible to make a definitive diagnosis, the patient may have to wait for symptoms to become more distinct, or may be referred for additional evaluation.

    Will you give me anything for pain?

    The majority of patients are able to manage any post treatment discomfort with an anti-inflammatory. When possible, this is provided to you with post treatment directions. Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is completed. However, if you have severe pain or pressure, or pain that lasts more than a few days, a call to the Endodontist is indicated.

    Will the tooth need any additional special care?

    It is recommended that the tooth be restored in a timely manner. You should avoid chewing or biting on the tooth until the final restoration is placed by your dentist.

    What causes endodontically treated teeth to need additional treatment?

    The primary reason previously treated teeth need re-treatment is because a permanent restoration was not placed in a timely fashion. This may result in the loss of the tooth because of recurrent decay. New trauma, deep decay, or loose, cracked or broken fillings can cause new infection in the tooth. In some cases, the Endodontist may discover very narrow or curved canals that could not be treated during the initial procedure.

    Can all teeth be endodontically treated?

    Most teeth can be treated successfully with root canal therapy. Occasionally, a tooth cannot be saved because the canals are not accessible, the root is severely fractured, the tooth doesn’t have adequate bone support, or the tooth cannot be restored.