Frequently Asked Questions

What is a root canal?
Endodontic treatment, or a root canal, is the removal of the inner tissue, or pulp, of the tooth.

Why do I need a root canal?
A root canal is needed when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. This inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, a crack or chip in the tooth, or other types of trauma. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abcess.

Why did my dentist refer me to a specialist?
All dentists receive training in endodontic treatment in dental school, but often general dentists refer patients needing treatment to endodontists. Endodontists are dentists with special training in endodontic treatment, which takes place after dental school and lasts two or more years.

Can a root canal fail?
Yes. A root canal can fail for a number of reasons, including: complicated canal anatomy went undetected in the initial treatment, the filling or crown did not seal the treated area sufficiently, new decay exposed the existing filling material, or the tooth is chipped or cracked.

What is retreatment?
Endodontic retreatment is simply a redo of a previous root canal that has failed.

What is an apicoectomy?
When inflammation or infection persists in the bony area around the tooth after endodontic treatment, an apicoectomy, or root-end resection may be needed. An apicoectomy is a procedure in which the endodontist opens the gum tissue near the tooth to expose the underlying bone, and the infected tissue is removed.

Why does my tooth hurt after treatment?
Just like any other kind of surgery, the body needs time to heal, and this can be painful. However, given time, the pain will go away. If you are experiencing severe or prolonged pain after treatment, additional procedures may be necessary.

For more information, please visit the American Dental Association website:

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Southtown Endodontics

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