Frequently Asked Questions


  • What is an Endodontist?

    An endodontist is a specialist who has received at least two years of post-graduate training in addition to dental school and limits his or her practice to root canal procedures only. They perform routine as well as difficult and complex endodontic procedures, including endodontic surgery. Endodontists are also experienced at finding the cause of oral and facial pain that has been difficult to diagnose.

  • Why do I need a root canal?

    There are many reasons that a tooth might need a root canal. Perhaps the most common reason is decay. Since decay is primarily caused by bacteria, a deep cavity can cause the pulp, which is essentially the living portion of the tooth, to become infected. This infection, in turn, can cause pain and sensivity to temperature changes. If the infection goes untreated it can spread to the bone and cause an abcess. A loose, cracked, or repeatedly replaced filling can allow bacteria to leak into the tooth, resulting in an infection as well. Initial symptoms could include:

    • Sensitivity to cold

    • Sensitivity to heat

    • Sensitivity to biting pressure

    • Toothache

  • What exactly is root canal?

    A root canal is a procedure performed to save a compromised tooth. Of course, the first step is to examine the tooth in question and determine if a root canal is needed and indeed can be done. This examination procedure is usually accomplished by radiographs (x-rays) and by gently exposing the tooth to various stimuli. After it has been determined that a root is completely anesthetized or numbed. The tooth is isolated with a rubber dam to keep it dry and clean. Then, a small hole is drilled into the tooth and the pulp chamber and canal(s) are cleaned out with an instrument called a file. The tooth is then disinfected with an antibacterial solution, dried, medicated, and sealed with a temporary filling material. A few weeks later, the tooth is reopened and the pulp chamber and canal(s) are filled with a permanent filling material called gutta percha. Another temporary filling is placed on top of the permanent gutta percha filling to seal the small hole drilled in the surface of the tooth.

  • Will I need any medications?

    Yes! It is usually necessary to take antibiotics for several days after your initial visit to make sure the infection is controlled and eliminated. Also, since it is common for the tooth to be sore for a few days after treatment, pain medication may be prescribed as well. However, an over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen (Advil) and warm salt-water rinses will usually suffice.

  • What should I do before my appointment?

    It would be greatly appreciated if you would have with you your dental insurance information. Our office will be happy to file for you, however, with insurance we do ask for 40% copay. Any other financial arrangements should be made with the office personnel before your initial visit. Also, if you have heart or orthopedic problems (joint replacement) that require you to premedicate before dental treatment, you should do so according to your doctor's recommendations.

  • Will I need someone to drive me home?

    Our doctors perform root canal therapy under local anesthesia, therefore it is not required that someone accompany you to your appointment. Nitrous Oxide sedation is available for an additional charge of $65.00. While most patients do not choose to use the nitrous, it is a personal preference and is available for those who normally use it during routine dental procedures.

  • What about infection control?

    We sterilize every instrument including our dental handpieces (drill) after each use. We also use a bacteriocidal (disinfectant) solution on all surfaces in the operatory. Our autoclave, which is the machine used to sterilize our instruments, is checked at least once a day to insure it is functioning properly. Also, we use disposable items whenever possible. W e are as concerned about HIV, hepatitis B and other infectious diseases, and because of this, we follow the recommended procedures for infection control.

  • What if I need to reach the Dentist after hours?

    If you have any questions, severe pain, swelling or problems with the prescribed medication like nausea or rash, you should call our office and our answering service will reach the doctor for you at any time. It is important that our patients be aware of any possible complications and know that our staff is here to help. (205) 414-1499

  • What should I do after my root canal is complete?

    Since the root canal procedure removes the living portion of the tooth, it becomes brittle and can break very easily. Because of this, the patient should return to his or her dentist so that the tooth can be properly and permanently restored. Remember, the permanent root canal filling is only in the pulp root chamber and canal(s). There is only a temporary filling placed on the surface of the tooth. Our office will send an x-ray and any other important information along to your regular dentist so that he or she can determine which type of permanent restoration is right for your tooth.

  • What else should I know?

    Sometimes the root canal procedure is not enough. There are some instances when a previously completed root canal has to be retreated. In this case, the old root canal filling is removed and the tooth resterilized and refilled. Furthermore, it may be necessary to place a calcium solution inside a tooth that has been traumatized so that a permanent root canal filling can be placed successfully. The procedure is most commonly required for young children and adolescents because their roots have not completely formed. The calcium treatment is usually carried out over a period of a year or two and involves visits to our office every few months.

  • Can all teeth be treated endodontically?

    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, advances in endodontics are making it possible to save teeth even 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 how severe the problem is and which tooth is affected. Molars are more difficult to treat and usually cost more. Most dental insurance policies provide coverage for endodontic treatment. Generally, endodontic treatment and restoration of the natural tooth are less expensive than the alternative of having the tooth extracted. An extracted tooth must be replaced with a bridge or implant to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. These procedures tend to cost more than endodontic treatment and appropriate restoration.

Additional questions?Call Us!

We're here to help.

(205) 414-1499

BALLARD ENDODONTICS • 1771 INDEPENDENCE CT. • SUITE 4 • VESTAVIA HILLS, AL • 35216 • (205) 414.1499 P • (205) 414.8244 F

American Association
of Endodontists