Frequently Asked Questions

A Few Popular Questions We Get Regarding Root Canals
Definition of Endodontic
“Endo” is the Greek work for “inside” and “odont” is Greek for “tooth”. Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth. Endodontics is the dental specialty concerned with the study and treatment of the dental pulp.
What is an endodontist?
An endodontist is a dental specialist that has completed 4 years of dental school along with an additional two or more years of specialty training in endodontics (root canals). In other words, an endodontist is a root canal specialist.
What is a root canal?
Your tooth has a hard outside (enamel, dentin) and a soft inside (pulp, nerve). A root canal is the removal of the soft inside and replacing it with gutta percha (which has been used in root canals for almost a century).
What causes a tooth to need a root canal?

Bacteria (not a virus) reaches the soft inside part, the pulp & nerve. The pulp is expecting, is counting on the hard outside part of the tooth to keep out the bacteria.

Decay (sugar-related) and cracks (as in structural) allow for bacteria to reach the pulp. Once the bacteria are inside the tooth, bad things start to happen and generally speaking, your only long-term solution is a root canal or extraction.

Symptoms include: pain when biting down, swelling, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth. However, sometimes there are no symptoms.

Do root canals always work?
No. I wish the answer was “yes” but the reality is there are a variety of reasons for you to lose your tooth after a root canal.
Root Canal vs Implant
Sometimes it is better to have an implant rather than a root canal. Dr. Cowling will discuss the options and give you his opinion of how he sees your situation.
Will the treatment be painful?
A local anesthetic will be used. We take every measure to ensure that the procedure is comfortable or painless.
Will I be awake for the procedure?
Yes. You will be given a local anesthetic, similar to what you would experience with any other dental procedure, such as a crown or filling.
Will I experience pain following the procedure?
Usually not but sometimes you do. Some patients experience mild soreness for a few days; some patients have no pain at all. Thankfully it is rare that severe pain is felt after a root canal. If you do experience pain, Dr. Cowling’s home number is available after hours.
Can I go back to work/school following my appointment?
Yes. The area of your mouth that is worked on may be numb for a few hours following the procedure but it should not interfere with your day-to-day activities.
Can I eat after the procedure?
No. Wait until the numbness is gone. Your mouth will be partially numb so care should be taken to avoid biting your cheek, tongue or lip.
Can I drive myself to and from the procedure?
Yes*. Local anesthetic will be administered, similar to how it feels for a typical dental visit such as a crown or filling.
*Unless you have taken a sedative prior to your appointment. YOU MUST HAVE A DRIVER!
Do you accept my insurance?
Yes. We accept most insurance. After obtaining your insurance information, we will contact them to get the most up-to-date benefit information. We will review your benefits and advise you of the estimated co-payment, which is due at the time of your appointment. If you have any further concerns, it is advised that you contact your insurance company directly.
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