If you have questions, most likely others have had them too! Browse our list of frequently asked questions and feel free to contact us directly if you don’t find the answers you need. We’re here to help!
What is endodontic therapy?
“Endo” is the Greek work for “inside” and “odont” is Greek for “tooth.” Endodontic treatment is, therefore, a dental procedure that treats the inside of the tooth.
Understanding the anatomy of the tooth will help to clarify how endodontic treatment works. Inside the tooth, under both the white enamel and the hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue.
The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots where it connects to tissues surrounding the root. The pulp is important during a tooth’s growth and development. However, once a tooth is fully mature, it can actually survive without the pulp.
Why would I need an endodontic procedure?
Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can be caused by a variety of issues: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage, even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
What are the signs for needing endodontic treatment?
Signs to look for include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth, swelling or drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes and nearby bone or gingival tissues. However, sometimes there are no symptoms.
How does endodontic treatment save a tooth?
The endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the canal (a channel inside the root) and fills and seals the space. Afterwards, the patient will return to their primary dentist who will place a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect it and restore it to full function. After restoration, the tooth functions like any other tooth!
Will I feel pain during or after the procedure?
Many endodontic procedures are performed because the patient is already experiencing pain caused by inflamed or infected pulp. With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report feeling completely comfortable during the procedure.
However, for the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was already pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Follow your endodontist’s instructions carefully.
Your new tooth may feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is complete. However, you should not experience severe pain or pressure for more than a few days.
Call your endodontist immediately if you think something is wrong.
How much will the procedure cost?
The cost varies depending on how complex the problem is and which tooth is affected. Molars are more difficult to treat, so the fee is usually more. Fortunately, most dental insurance policies provide some coverage for endodontic treatment.
Generally, endodontic treatment and restoration of the natural tooth cost less than extraction. An extracted tooth must be replaced with a bridge or implant to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. With root canal treatment you save your natural teeth and your money!
Will the tooth need any special care or additional treatment after endodontic treatment?
You should not chew or bite on the treated tooth until it has been permanently restored. The unrestored tooth is susceptible to fracture, so you should see your dentist as soon as possible when indicated. Otherwise, you simply need to practice good oral hygiene (brushing, flossing and regular check-ups and cleanings).
Most endodontically treated teeth last as long as other natural teeth. In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment may not heal and continue to cause the patient pain. Occasionally, the tooth may become susceptible to diseases months or years after successful treatment. When this occurs, redoing the endodontic procedure can often save the tooth.
What causes an endodontically treated tooth to need additional treatment?
New trauma, deep decay or a loose, cracked or broken filling can cause new infection in your tooth. In some cases, the endodontist may discover additional narrow or curved canals that could not be treated during the initial procedure.
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 that would have been lost just a few years ago. When endodontic treatment is not effective, endodontic surgery may be able to save the tooth.
Dental Insurance FAQ: What is a “UCR?“
“UCR” stands for “usual, customary and reasonable.” The term refers to fees used by insurance companies to describe the amount they are willing to pay for a particular endodontic procedure. There is no standard fee or accepted method for determining the UCR fee, and the UCR has no relationship to the fee charged by your endodontist. The administrator of each dental benefit plan determines the fees that the plan will pay based on many factors. These include the region of the country, the number of procedures performed and, most importantly, the individual plan purchased for you by your place of employment.
Dental Insurance FAQ: Why was my benefit different from what I expected?
Your dental benefit may vary for a number of reasons. For example:
- You have already used some or all of the benefits available from your dental insurance.
- Your insurance plan paid only a percentage of the fee charged by your endodontist.
- The treatment you needed was not a covered benefit.
- You have not yet met your deductible.
- You have not reached the end of your plan’s waiting period and are currently ineligible for coverage.
Dental Insurance FAQ: Why isn’t the recommended treatment covered?
Your endodontist diagnoses and provides treatment based on his or her professional judgment, not on the cost of that care. Some employers or insurance plans exclude coverage for necessary treatment as a way to reduce their premium costs. Your plan may not include a particular treatment or procedure, but you should listen to what your endodontist recommends.
Dental Insurance FAQ: How do I know what my payment portion will be if my insurance does not cover the entire fee?
Your payment portion will vary according to the usual, customary and reasonable fee (UCR) of your plan, your maximum allowable benefit and other factors. Ultimately, the patient portion is not known until the insurance check has been received.
Dental Insurance FAQ: How do I understand my explanation of benefits (EOB)?
Your Explanation of Benefits (EOB) is a wealth of information. The EOB identifies the benefits, the amount your insurance carrier is willing to pay and any charges that are not covered by your plan. The statement includes the following: usual, customary and reasonable fee (UCR), copayment amount, patient portion, remaining benefits, deductible and benefits paid.
Dental Insurance FAQ: How long does it take for a claim to be paid?
The time for a dental insurance carrier to process an insurance claim varies. At least 38 states have enacted laws requiring dental insurance carriers to pay claims within a timely period (ranging from 15-60 days).
Dental Insurance FAQ: Who are you in network with?
We are in network with Aetna, Assurant, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, United Concordia, Delta Dental, DenteMax, Access Dental, Amacore, Careington, and Humana.