What is an Endodontist?
All dentists, including your general dentist, received training in endodontic treatment in dental school. General dentists can perform root canal procedures, but they often refer patients needing endodontic treatment to a specialist. A general dentist will very often have a team of trusted specialists to which he or she refers patients.
Like many medical terms, ‘endodontic’ is Greek; it comes from “endo” – meaning inside – and “odont” – meaning tooth. An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in saving teeth. Any dentist, if they so choose, can specialize in endodontics. After completing dental school, a specialty in endodontics requires an additional two (or more) years of advanced training. The program dives deep into the diagnosis and treatment of dental pain. Endodontists perform routine, as well as difficult and very complex, root canal procedures including endodontic surgery and the treatment of traumatic dental injuries.
Do you charge for X-rays?
We do not charge for radiographs (x-rays) taken in our office. If your referring doctor has taken radiographs that you would like Dr. Duggan to evaluate, please bring them with you to your appointment or have your referring doctor’s office email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Often there is diagnostic value in exposing radiographs at multiple angles of a questionable tooth to assist in the visualization of the pathology. Endodontic procedures themselves sometimes require the exposure of multiple radiographs while they are happening.
*Please note: If you are pregnant, Duggan Endodontics will use caution when choosing to expose radiographs and you will be double draped with lead aprons.
If you have questions or concerns about the amount of radiation you are receiving, please ask.
How do I know if I need a Root Canal?
If you think you might need a root canal, signs to look for include: pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, a ‘pimple’ on the gum, discoloration of the tooth, swelling, drainage, and tenderness in the lymph nodes or gums. However, it is not uncommon to have no symptoms at all.
Click here to learn more about root canals.
Will I need to return to your office for follow-ups after the procedure is finished?
Yes, for most root canal treatments, we recommend that patients return to the office one year after the procedure is finished. Our office will send a reminder notice to you when you are due for a recall appointment.
Will the tooth need any special care or additional treatment after endodontic treatment?
You should not chew or bite on the treated tooth until you have had it restored by your dentist. The unrestored tooth is susceptible to fracture, so you should see your dentist for a full restoration as soon as possible. Otherwise, you need only to practice good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular checkups and cleanings.
What is the 'dental pulp'?
The pulp is the soft tissue that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. It lies within the tooth and extends from the pulp chamber in the crown of the tooth to the tip of the root and into the bone of the jaws.
Why does the pulp need to be removed?
When the infected pulp is not removed, pain and swelling can result. Byproducts of the infection can injure your jawbones and promote bone loss. In addition, without treatment, you might end up losing the tooth.
What happens if the pulp is injured?
When the pulp is diseased or injured and cannot repair itself, it dies. The most common cause of pulp death is a cracked tooth or a deep cavity. Both of these problems allow bacteria to enter the pulp. Bacteria can lead to an infection inside the tooth. Without treatment, pus builds up at the root tip (in the jawbone) and forms a “pus-pocket” – also called an abscess. An abscess can cause damage to the tissues around the tooth. The damage can lead to bone loss and create a hole in your jawbone.
What does endodontic treatment look like?
Dr. Duggan removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the canal (a channel inside the root) and then fills and seals the space. Afterwards, you will return to your dentist who will place a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. After the final restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth. Click here for more information.
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 endodontic treatment is not effective, endodontic surgery may be able to save the tooth.
How much will the procedure cost?
The cost varies depending on which tooth is affected and the complexity the problem. Molars are more difficult to treat, thus the fee is usually higher. Generally, endodontic treatment and restoration of the natural tooth are less expensive than the alternative: tooth extraction and replacement. An extracted tooth must be replaced with a bridge or an implant to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. These procedures tend to cost more than endodontic treatment and appropriate restoration.
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Will I feel pain during or after the procedure?
We take every measure to ensure no pain is induced during the endodontic procedure. If treatment is needed, we will inject an anesthetic to profoundly numb a concentrated area of your mouth. For most patients, the feeling of numbness usually subsides after 2-3 hours. For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. Your body needs time to repair the damage that the original irritant caused. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Dr. Duggan will provide you with thorough instructions for managing any discomfort. Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different than 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, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
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How long will my root canal last?
There are, of course, no guarantees, but root canal or endodontic therapy has a very high degree of success — up to 95%. Most endodontically treated teeth last as long as other teeth. In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment may not heal, or the tooth may become painful or diseased months, sometimes even years, after successful treatment. Often, when this occurs, a repeat of the endodontic procedure or endodontic surgery can save the tooth. We will discuss the chances of success with you before any endodontic procedure to help you make an informed decision.
I’ve already had a root canal on this tooth, why do I need another?
New trauma, deep decay, or a loose, cracked, or broken restoration can cause new infection in your tooth. Lack of proper disinfection or lack of infected tissue removal from the first root canal can also cause problems. Dr. Duggan is highly skilled at finding untreated canals, which are often very narrow or curved, and therefore were not properly or fully treated during the initial procedure.
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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 should I do to prepare for treatment or surgery?
A thorough explanation is provided in the “Patient Info” page.
Do you accept dental insurance?
Yes, we do accept and file electronically dental insurance. But, we are not in network with any dental insurance carrier. Our primary objective is to provide high-quality dental care at a fair price. The dental insurance company’s primary objective is to earn a profit for its shareholders. We do not allow the insurance company to dictate the standard and quality of care we deliver.
Many carriers refer to their allowed payments as UCR, which stands for “Usual, Customary, and Reasonable”. However, this does NOT mean what it seems to mean. UCR is a negotiated price list between your employer and the insurance carrier for a given procedure. The UCR is related to the cost of the premiums and the geographical area (typically by zip code) where the treatment is done. In almost all cases, the insurance payment for the billed services is usually less — frequently much less — than what is charged.
How an insurance company determines UCR is a common point of confusion. An insurance company surveys a geographic area, calculates an average fee, takes 80% of that fee and considers it customary. Included in this survey are discount dental clinics and managed care facilities. They bring down the average.
The amount an insurance plan pays for your treatment is determined by how much your employer paid for the dental insurance plan. You get back only what your employer put in, less the profits of the insurance company. Dental benefits differ greatly from general health insurance benefits. In 1971, dental-insurance benefits were approximately $1,000 per year. Figuring a 4% rate of inflation per year, you should be receiving more than $4,990 per year in dental benefits. Your premiums have increased, but your benefits have not.
Dental insurance is never a pay-all; it is only an aid or supplement. Many plans tell their participants that they will be covered “up to 80 percent” but do not clearly specify plan fee-schedule allowances, annual maximums, or limitations. Hence, it often does not represent a practical fee for a given procedure. It is more realistic to expect dental insurance to cover 35 – 65% of major services.
The Cost to Our Office is Great
The cost of handling insurance in our office, after numerous lengthy phone calls, often submitting information and radiographs two or three times because insurance companies “lost” or “never received” them, excessive paperwork, mailing, and redundant billing, is huge. It is not a minor inconvenience, but rather a substantial barrier to our success as a business. On top of it all, it can take up to 4 to 6 weeks for claims to be processed; it’s not unusual for 2 months and sometimes longer!
Our financial policies are in place to enable our patients to receive the highest level of endodontic care our office can provide. Please do not hesitate to call us if you have further questions. We are happy to assist you in getting the most accurate quote possible from your insurance carrier.
Click here to learn more about our insurance and financial policies.