FAQs - A Tooth Cavity, Pain in Teeth, Dental Emergency & Dental Insurance

Molina Endodontics

(562) 904-1807


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a root canal?  

The root canal is found in the center of the tooth. It normally contains the pulp, which consists of nerves and blood vessels. When the canal has become infected, root canal treatment is needed to clean out the diseased tissue and then seal the inside of the tooth.

Is it going to hurt?

With advances in modern technology, root canal treatments are much easier to have done than they used to be. Most people report that it is similar to having a filing placed.

How much time will it take?

After your examination, root canal treatment usually lasts about 60 minutes. In some cases, more than one visit is necessary to get past obstructions and adequately clean the root canals. Curved roots and calcified root canals can also increase the complexity and therefore the treatment time.

Should I stop taking my medications before the visit?

No.  Patients should take all medications as prescribed by their doctor. A thorough review of your medical history will be done to ensure that our root canal treatment does not interfere with the medications you are already taking.

Can I eat after my root canal?

When nonsurgical root canal therapy (NSRCT) is complete, a temporary filling will be placed into the top of the tooth so that food and debris do not pack into the tooth. This will be soft for several hours. Plan for a soft meal after your visit, and avoid foods such as Doritos, popcorn and nuts.

What can I expect to feel after my root canal?

The tooth pain that was caused by heat and cold will be gone immediately. However, it is common for teeth to be tender to chewing for one to two days after having a root canal. The vast majority of patients will only need mild over-the-counter pain medications to relieve the discomfort.

I'm worried about X-rays. Should I be?

No. While X-rays will be necessary during your root canal treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, that produces radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of already low-dose conventional dental X-ray machinery. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to your entist by mail or e-mail.  For more information, contact Schick Technologies, Inc.

How is an endodontist different than a general dentist?

Endodontists are dentists who have dedicated their practice to performing root canal therapy and root-related surgeries. To become a root canal specialist, the American Dental Association requires dentists to complete additional formal residency at an ADA-accredited program, which can be two to three years long.

Why can’t my own dentist perform root canal treatment?

General dentists can perform endodontic treatment. However, certain teeth and situations are better-suited for specialty care. The root canal system can be complicated, which is why endodontics is a recognized specialty of dentistry. In medical care, there are procedures and disorders that a primary-care physician would prefer to have a specialist manage. Likewise, your general dentist has referred you to an endodontist.

Will I have pain after root canal treatment?

On average, there can be discomfort after root canal therapy or surgery for three to five days. Typically, patients can return to work on the same day and there are usually no physical limitations needed after root canal treatment. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are recommended postoperatively. If needed, stronger pain medications along with antibiotics may also be prescribed.

What causes pulp damage?

Some common causes for injury to the pulp are tooth decay and cavities, repeated dental procedures on the tooth and trauma. Clenching, grinding and chewing hard objects may cause cracks in the tooth. Bacteria can enter into the cracks and cause pulpal damage.

Why can't I use antibiotics to make the tooth abscess go away?

Unfortunately, when a tooth is infected, the blood supply (pulp) running through the tooth is affected as well. As a result, there is no way to conduct antibiotics to the needed area. They do however, assist in controlling and eliminating infection in the surrounding bone before and after root canal treatment.

Will the tooth last forever after root canal treatment?

Root canal therapy has been reported to be up to 95% successful. Many factors influence the root canal treatment outcome: the patient's general health, bone support around the tooth, strength of the tooth including possible fracture lines, shape and condition of the root and nerve canal(s) and continued follow-up care with your general dentist. Although we cannot guarantee the successful outcome of root canal procedures, you can be assured that the most advanced techniques and treatment modalities will be performed to ensure the best prognosis possible.

What is the recovery time after root canal treatment?

For the first few days following treatment, the tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was tooth pain or tooth infection present before the procedure. Over-the-counter medications can usually relieve this discomfort; however, the endodontist may prescribe other medications if indicated.

Are follow-ups required after a root canal?

If the tooth was badly infected or inflamed at the initial appointment, a second appointment to complete roo canal treatment may be necessary. We also may need to schedule X-ray appointments in six months to check healing in the bone following some, but not all, endodontic procedures.

Can I return to my normal exercise regimen after root canal treatment?

Absolutely. However, if you engage in high-impact exercise, you should wait to see what degree of post-treatment sensitivity you experience.

How soon after my treatment do I have to follow Up with my general dentist for the permanent restoration?

In most cases, a temporary filling is placed on your tooth at the end of your treatment appointment. This temporary filling is only meant to last four to six weeks, after which it will start to break down. We strongly recommend that you schedule your appointment with your family dentist for the permanent filling or crown two weeks after your root canal treatment.

Will antibiotics cure a tooth infection?

Antibiotics cannot cure a root canal infection because the source of the infection is inside the tooth where there is no blood supply; without blood supply there is no mechanism to deliver antibiotics. The cure is the complete shaping, cleaning and obturation (sealing) of the contaminated root canal space.

Why would I need endodontic treatment?

Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep tooth decay and cavities, repeated dental procedures on the tooth or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation is left untreated, it can cause tooth pain or lead to tooth abscess.

What are the signs or symptoms that I may need endodontic treatment?

Signs to look for include:

  • Pain in teeth
  • Prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Tenderness to touch and chewing
  • Discoloration of the tooth
  • Swelling, drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes as well as nearby bone and gum tissues

Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms.

Why does the pulp need to be removed?

When the infected pulp is not removed, toothaches and swelling can result. Byproducts of the tooth infection can injure your jawbones and promote bone loss. In addition, without treatment, you might end up losing the tooth.

Can all teeth be treated with root canals?

Most teeth can be treated. Occasionally, a tooth can’t be saved because the root canals are not accessible, the root is severely fractured, the tooth doesn’t have adequate bone support or the tooth cannot be restored. However, recent advances in endodontics are making it possible to save teeth that even just a few years ago would have been lost. When root canal treatment is not effective, endodontic surgery may be able to save the tooth.

I’ve already had a root canal on this tooth, so why do I need another?  

New trauma, teeth with cavities or a loose, cracked or broken restoration can cause new tooth infection. Lack of proper disinfection or lack of infected tissue removal from the first root canal can also cause problems.

What are the alternative treatments to endodontic treatment?

Though root canal procedures are intended to help save your tooth, this is not always possible. Often, the only alternative to endodontic treatment is extraction of the tooth. Missing teeth can make you self-conscious, affect your ability to chew, cause other healthy teeth to shift and have a negative impact on your overall health.

What are the signs I may need endodontic treatment?

Signs of pulp damage include teeth pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, swelling, gum tenderness and discoloration of the tooth. Sometimes there are no symptoms when pulp degenerates, and it may only be detected by a dental examination and X-rays.

For exceptional, patient-focused endodontic care in Santa Fe Springs, Pico Rivera, Lynwood, South Gate and Downey, trust Molina Endodontics in LA County, CA. Call (562) 904-1807 for more information or simply use our convenient online Request An Appointment form. Se habla español.




Sonia Molina, DMD, MPH, is an experienced, highly skilled endodontist located in Downey, CA and serves Orange County, Los Angeles County, Inland Empire, Beach Cities and Las Vegas. Dr. Molina has practiced endodontics here since 1992. She provides exceptional one-on-one patient care for root canal therapy, retreatment, apicoectomy, apexification and oral/facial pain. She uses sedation dentistry for fearful patients and has one of the highest patient satisfaction ratings among Southern California endodontists.

CONTACT US:
8109 2nd Street, Suite 100
Downey, CA 90241
Telephone: (562) 904-1807
Fax: (562) 904-2119 www.MolinaEndo.com

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