Answers to Your Frequently Asked Endodontic Questions

We hope the following answers to the most frequently asked endodontic questions can guide you in your search for the best provider of endodontics for your family here in southern Colorado.

If you have more root canal questions, visit our services page for more detailed information or contact us today to help answer any questions you have.

General Questions

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How are you keeping patients safe during COVID-19?
Safety is our top priority at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado. But now more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, we want you to feel confident that we are doing all we can to keep you protected. We are continually monitoring the situation and taking necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of our patients, their families, our endodontists, and our dental team. It is SAFE to visit your oral care provider and the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) recommends visiting an endodontist in the event of a tooth pain or dental emergency.

We always adhere to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Dental Association (ADA). More specifically, we use autoclave (heat and pressure) sterilization to completely eradicate all biological elements from instruments, and we monitor and test our autoclave machines with the rigorous SporAmpule biological indicator to ensure proper daily operation and safety.

We also utilize protective barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of new cross contamination infection. And we prepare your operatory well before you arrive by pre-cleaning, spraying, and wiping down all surfaces with hospital-level disinfectant and covering all exposed surfaces with plastic barriers..

Furthermore, we require that our entire staff complete a thorough OSHA-sponsored continuing education infection control training program yearly to ensure compliance with regulations on infection and hazard control.

What is endodontic treatment?
Endodontics is a specialty branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA) involving treatment of the dental pulp (root canal) and surrounding tissues of the tooth.

When you look at your tooth in the mirror, you see the crown of your tooth. The rest of the tooth – the portion hidden beneath the gum line – is called the root.

The inner channel or “root canal” contains the dental pulp or soft tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. Any bacteria introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture, or other problems can lead to death of the pulpal tissue. When that happens, a root canal specialist – known as an endodontist – performs a specialized dental procedure commonly referred to as root canal treatment to remove the diseased pulp to save the infected tooth and prevent further inflammation or infection. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform normally.

What’s the difference between a dentist and endodontist?
While all endodontists are dentists, less than three percent of dentists are endodontists. We are dental specialists who – in addition to dental school – have completed two or more years of advanced, post-graduate residency training focusing on diagnosing and treating complex oral, facial and dental pain conditions through endodontic or “root canal” treatment with the goal of retaining your natural teeth. For this reason, as endodontists we proudly refer to ourselves as ‘specialists in saving teeth.’
Why should I save my tooth?
Saving your natural teeth, if possible, is always the best option. The success rate of root canal treatment procedures is very high, and many endodontically-treated teeth last a lifetime. While artificial tooth substitutions exist, nothing can replace the look or function of a natural tooth, so it’s always important to consider endodontic treatment as a tooth retention option. Replacement of a missing tooth with an implant or bridge requires more treatment time and may involve further procedures to the supporting tissues and neighboring teeth.
Are Root Canals Safe?
Root canals are both safe and effective. Endodontists safely, effectively, and comfortably perform millions of root canal treatments every year. We want you to be informed about your oral health. Misinformation about root canal procedures exists, and unfortunately, those claims were based on theories that were scientifically disproven repeatedly more than 60 years ago. There is no valid scientific evidence linking root canal treatment to other health problems.

Your oral health can contribute to your overall health and well-being. In other words, a healthier mouth means a healthier you! Today’s modern digital imaging technology and operating microscopes help ensure successful endodontic treatment. Nothing looks, feels or functions like your natural tooth. Your tooth is worth saving!

Click HERE to learn more about root canal safety.

What is CBCT x-ray (Digital 3D CBCT Scan) technology?
CBCT or Cone Beam Computed Tomography is a revolutionary modern digital imaging system offering three dimensional views of your tooth and surrounding tissues. As endodontists we treat disease and infection that is microscopic and virtually invisible. Technological advancements allow us to visualize what we could previously not. This innovative imaging technique enables endodontists to see three dimensional (3D) views of a patient’s tooth and jaws, allowing discovery of cracks or unusual root anatomy and atypical diseases inside or around one’s tooth. CBCT imaging is similar to medical CT imaging, but is more advanced and can produce a 3D image of a very specific area in a matter of seconds, all while the patient is standing upright. As it is focused on small areas of the mouth, focus-field CBCT imaging results in radiation doses several hundred times lower than traditional medical CT; even less than 1/4th the dose of a standard chest x-ray.

Click HERE to learn more about CBCT x-ray technology.

What is the best treatment for a cracked tooth?
Not all cracked teeth require root canal treatment or coverage with a crown. The treatment and outcome for your cracked tooth depends on the type, location, and extent of the crack. When a tooth is cracked or chipped, bacteria is more likely to enter and irritate the inside of the tooth. Over time, biting pain or pain while chewing will occur more frequently, and the dental pulp and bone around your tooth can become infected. Timeliness matters; the sooner a tooth crack is located and treated, the better the outcome. For more information, see our treatment options for cracked teeth.
Are dental x-rays safe?
At both of our endodontic offices in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, we use state-of-the-art digital imaging technology that drastically reduces radiation exposure traditionally associated with film-based dental x-rays. We follow the government’s recommendations of “As Low As Reasonably Attainable” (ALARA) to ensure we can accomplish our procedures while exposing you to as minimal radiation as possible. Because x-rays are necessary during your endodontic treatment, we use an advanced computerized system called digital radiography that produces radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of conventional, film-based dental x-rays. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed, and sent to other members of your dental team including your general dentist or other dental specialists.

We utilize cutting-edge, narrow-focus field or limited field of view Cone Beam Computed Tomography (commonly referred to as 3D CBCT digital imaging) for the smallest of radiation exposures possible – key for evaluating your intricate root canal spaces while ensuring your safety. This high-resolution, small-field-of-view (only 5cm x 3.75cm wide exposure) allows for more comprehensive evaluation to specifically address your primary tooth concern, focusing treatment to give you the relief you need quickly. The average delivered radiation dose for a single 3D CBCT exam performed by our low-dose CBCT unit is similar to a few of the smaller two-dimensional digital dental x-rays. Overall, this dental 3D CBCT scan has radiation doses several hundred times lower than traditional medical CT, even less than 1/4th the dose of a standard chest x-ray.

What kind of technology does your office use?
Our state-of-the-art offices utilize the latest evidence-based techniques and modern equipment to enhance your comfort and root canal treatment outcomes. You can read about our modern technology here.
Is a root canal painful?
The short answer is no! Most root canal procedures are performed to relieve the oral pain caused by inflammation or infection of a tooth. Endodontists are experts in management and treatment of tooth-related pain, and with today’s modern techniques and anesthetics, nearly all patients report they are comfortable during their procedure. If there is existing pain, inflammation, or infection prior to the procedure, for the first few days following treatment your tooth can feel sensitive. In many instances, over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen are usually enough to manage this sensitivity. Prescription pain medications or antibiotics may be indicated in some cases. Consult with your provider and follow directions as prescribed.

Your tooth may feel slightly different than your other teeth for some time following endodontic treatment. For those requesting enhanced relaxation, we offer a full range of sedation options to make your procedure as comfortable as possible.

What should I expect after root canal treatment?
After your root canal treatment, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist or any other dental professional you request. You should contact your general dentist for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will select the type of dental restoration (or tooth filling) to protect and seal your tooth. While it’s rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery, we remain available at all times if a problem does occur. If you have an emergency after hours, our doctors can be reached by a pager at 719-900-3383. Be sure to visit our new patients page for more detailed post-treatment (after care) instructions.
What is root canal retreatment?
Occasionally, a previously treated tooth needs additional care at a later time. Your general dentist may refer you to our practice to repair a tooth previously treated with a root canal. A cavity, decay, new tooth trauma, a faulty crown, or a loose, cracked or broken filling can lead to new inflammation or infection. With 3D CBCT x-ray imaging and use of endodontic microscopes, an endodontist may also discover additional very narrow or curved canals spaces not located or treated during the initial procedure.

If further root canal treatment is recommended for your tooth, our endodontists offer retreatment options with the goal of tooth retention, preventing the need for tooth extraction.

Will I need dental surgery?
Usually a tooth that has undergone a root canal can last a lifetime and never need further endodontic treatment. Occasionally, a previously treated tooth needs additional care at a later time. Your general dentist may refer you to our practice to repair a tooth previously treated with a root canal to save your natural teeth and relieve tooth pain. With 3-D CBCT x-ray imaging and use of endodontic operating microscopes, today’s endodontic surgery treatment is much smaller and more minimally invasive. Known as endodontic microsurgery, surgical endodontics may be used to locate small fractures or additional very narrow or curved canals spaces not located or treated during the initial procedure. Post-surgical discomfort is generally mild and less eventful than typical oral surgery such as a tooth extraction or dental implant procedure.

Learn more HERE

What is an apicoectomy?
There are many surgical procedures that can be performed to save a tooth. The most common endodontic surgery procedure used to save damaged teeth is an apicoectomy, otherwise known as a root-end resection of the root tip or apex. It’s a minor root canal procedure, much less invasive than a tooth extraction or dental implant placement.

Your endodontist performs this microsurgical procedure following application of local anesthesia to make your tooth and surrounding tissue comfortable. The gum tissue near the tooth is opened to allow access to the underlying tooth and bone, facilitating removal of inflammation and infection. Following resection of the root, a small filling is placed to seal the end of the root canal space and a few sutures or stitches are placed to help the tissue heal. In some cases, a bone graft procedure is also completed to facilitate healing and expedite new bone growth in the area. Post-surgical discomfort is generally mild, and most patients may resume their normal activities the next day. In the next few months, the bone will heal around the end of the root.

We offer a full range of sedation dentistry options to keep our patients comfortable during treatment.

What’s the treatment for a knocked-out tooth?
Having a tooth knocked out due to injury or dental trauma doesn’t necessarily mean it’s lost for good. Acting quickly is key. We recommend visiting the nearest dentist or endodontist within 30 minutes of the injury. For more tips on how to save your knocked-out tooth, visit our dental trauma page.
What’s the treatment for dental resorption?
Sometimes the microscopic cells around our teeth become confused and start dissolving tooth structure, otherwise known as tooth resorption. While cases are rare, endodontists are specially trained to diagnose and treat dental resorption to increase the likelihood that you can save your tooth. X-rays or radiographs are commonly used to visualize your tooth surfaces.

External cervical resorption affects the area where your tooth meets the gums. This type of resorption is commonly a result of dental trauma, past orthodontic treatment, tooth whitening, or due to an unknown (usually genetic) cause. Treatment depends on severity. If caught early, a minor gum surgical procedure, a root canal procedure, or both can be used to repair your tooth with the goal of tooth retention.

Internal resorption differs in that it happens entirely inside your tooth. The blood vessel inside the tooth expands, which dissolves the inner tooth surface. This process is usually a result of dental infection or tooth trauma. If caught early, the process can be treated entirely with conservative, non-surgical root canal treatment.

External resorption affects the outside surface of your tooth root and often occurs at the apex or root tip, shortening the tooth root and is similar to the process of losing a baby tooth. If occurring in adult teeth, it is usually a result of a dental abscess producing chronic inflammation and infection near the tooth apex or from an impacted (or buried) wisdom tooth applying pressure against a neighboring tooth. To prevent tooth loss, root canal treatment is usually advised.

Will insurance cover my root canal procedure?
While dental plans offer financial assistance, dental insurance does not always cover the entire fee for your endodontic procedure or root canal treatment. Contact your insurance provider to review your dental plan benefits, including yearly maximums, deductibles, and in-network/out-of-network benefits. As a courtesy, our team will submit charges to your insurance company on your behalf and accept payment directly from them. Visit our financial page for more information.
Why must I provide a copy of my ID?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), federal bank regulatory agencies and the National Credit Union Administration developed the Red Flags Rule as a way to fight the incidence of identity theft. Since June 1, 2010, most health care providers must now comply with this new regulation, which includes maintaining a copy of the patient’s government issued identification to help keep your identity safe.

About Our Services

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Endodontic Treatment

Endodontics deals specifically with the tissue surrounding the root of a tooth. We specialize in therapies that restore the health of the tooth and ultimately relieve your pain.

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Root Canal Therapy

Our endodontists are experts in root canal therapy, which is a common dental procedure that can save your natural teeth and prevent the need for dental implants or bridges down the road.

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Cracked Teeth

If left untreated, cracked teeth can allow bacteria to enter the tooth and infect the tooth pulp. Quick treatment is the best way to prevent infection and relieve pain while chewing.

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Dental Trauma

Whether your injury is the result of a car accident, sports mishap, or bad fall, dental trauma requires prompt treatment to save the tooth and prevent infection.

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Advanced Root Canal Therapy

Thanks to advances in technology, root canal therapy has drastically improved over the years. We use cutting-edge equipment and the latest techniques to treat our patients.

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Sedation Dentistry

We provide the latest sedation and relaxation techniques to make your endodontic treatment as smooth and comfortable as possible.

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