Root Canals

If your tooth is severely decayed or infected, leaving you cringing in pain, root canal therapy can save your tooth and get you out of pain fast.

Signs You May Need a Root Canal

  • Extreme sensitivity to cold or heat
  • Pain with chewing
  • Swelling of the gums
  • Discoloration of the tooth
  • Spontaneous pain
  • Pain that wakes you up at night

What to Expect

We will complete a full diagnostic workup to verify that your tooth is restorable and indeed needs root canal treatment. Dr.Wood works with many kids who don’t like shots, so she will get you out of pain in the most gentle way possible. Because let’s face it, adults don’t like shots either. Once you are fully numb, we will clean out the canals inside the root and seal them with a biocompatible material. If your tooth is severely infected, we may place a medication inside the canals to effectively debride the area. We would then place a temporary filling and seal the roots at a second visit in two weeks.

Following the procedure, you may experience pain for three days following your treatment. In that case, we recommend that you take your prescribed medications to keep you comfortable, and avoid eating on the affected side of your mouth until the tenderness has subsided. After the nerve is removed from a tooth, it becomes more brittle and prone to fracture, so it is important that you have a crown placed on this tooth once you are symptom free.

Post Operative Instructions

Following your root canal procedure, your lips, teeth and tongue may be numb for several hours. Avoid any chewing on the side of the treated tooth until the numbness has completely worn off. A temporary filling or crown is placed to protect the tooth between appointments. It's common (and not a problem) for a small portion of your temporary filling or crown to wear away or break off. However, if the entire restoration falls out or breaks, please call our office so it can be replaced. To protect the tooth and help keep your temporary restoration in place:

  • Avoid chewing sticky foods (especially gum).
  • Avoid biting hard foods and hard substances, such as ice, fingernails and pencils.
  • If possible, chew only on the opposite side of your mouth.

It's normal to experience some discomfort for several days after a root canal therapy appointment, especially when chewing. It is not uncommon for a tooth to be uncomfortable or even exhibit a dull ache immediately after receiving root canal therapy. This should subside within a few days (or even weeks). Even if you were not experiencing any discomfort prior to treatment, it is normal for you to experience some degree of discomfort for a few days after. The tenderness is normal and is no cause for alarm. To control discomfort, take pain medication as recommended by your dentist. If antibiotics are prescribed, continue to take them for the indicated length of time, even if all symptoms and signs of infection are gone. If you were not prescribed a pain medication by us but are experiencing pain after your appointment, we recommend taking over the counter pain medication. We recommend ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin) or naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox). Should you experience discomfort that cannot be controlled with pain medications or should swelling develop, please call our office. To further reduce pain and swelling, rinse three times a day with warm salt water; dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, then rinse, swish, and spit.

Usually, the last step after root canal treatment is the placement of a crown on the tooth. A crown covers and protects the tooth from breaking in the future. Unless otherwise noted by the dentist, it is critical to have a crown placed on your root canal treated tooth as soon as possible. Delay in obtaining the crown may result in fracture and/or possible loss of the tooth. If your bite feels uneven, you have persistent pain, or you have any other questions or concerns, please call our office.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a root canal procedure painful?

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Despite lingering myths from before the age of modern dental anesthesia and technology, having a root canal procedure today is as routine and comfortable as a dental filling. If you are extremely nervous about your procedure, we may prescribe you a medication to help alleviate anxiety during treatment.

Do I need to have a root canal procedure if I'm not in pain?

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Whether the symptoms of a dental infection subside after a course of antibiotics, a draining abscess provides you with some temporary pain relief, or a tooth with radiographic evidence of pathology has not yet developed symptoms, it’s essential, before an infection worsens or occurs, to have a root canal procedure performed. In this way, the tooth can be disinfected, filled, and sealed to protect your health and avoid further problems.

Do you offer emergency appointments?

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If you have sustained a dental injury, have a toothache, jaw pain, swelling, or are experiencing any other unusual and uncomfortable oral symptoms, contact our office immediately for care. Dental problems that have not been evaluated and treated can significantly worsen, producing more severe damage and consequences for the involved teeth, your oral health, and even your overall wellbeing.

How long does a root canal procedure take?

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Most root canal procedures can be completed in one visit, although some severely infected teeth may be treated in 2 to 3 visits. How long it takes depends on various factors, including active infection, the number of canals in the tooth, and the tooth’s location or anatomy.

How much does root canal therapy cost, and does dental insurance cover it?

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Saving a tooth with root canal therapy is typically less costly and invasive than having the tooth extracted and replaced with a fixed bridge or implant. As far as the exact cost of care, it can vary depending on which tooth is being treated. Many dental insurance plans provide coverage for root canal therapy. We will do our best to optimize your dental benefits and minimize your out-of-pocket expenses, and answer any payment related questions you may have.

Office Hours

Monday
7:45 AM - 4:30 PM
Tuesday
7:45 AM - 4:30 PM
Wednesday
7:45 AM - 4:30 PM
Thursday
7:45 AM - 4:30 PM
Friday
7:45 AM - 4:30 PM

Contact Us

5530 Wisconsin Avenue
Suite 1535
Chevy Chase, MD 20815

(240) 465-9066

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