Frequently Asked Questions

What is Endodontics?

Endodontics is a specialty branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association involving treatment of the pulp (tissue within the root canal) and surrounding tissues of the tooth. When you look at your tooth in the mirror, what you see is the clinical crown. The rest of the tooth, the portion hidden beneath the gum line, is called the root. Though the outer portion of the root is a hard tissue called dentin, the inside channel or “root canal” contains a pulp of soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems, can severely damage the pulp. When that happens, an endodontic specialist removes the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth and surrounding bone can heal and continue to perform normally.

Why choose an Endodontist?

Endodontists are dentists with at least two additional years of advanced training in Endodontics. They specialize in saving teeth through endodontic procedures, including root canal treatment and endodontic microsurgery. Endodontists are skilled in identifying the cause of oral and facial pain. They are experts at managing and relieving tooth pain and infections, treating traumatic injuries to teeth and performing procedures including internal bleaching to remove discoloration from teeth, vital pulp therapies and implant therapy to replace lost or missing teeth. At Deschutes Endodontics we use advanced technology, such as operating microscopes, ultrasonic instruments, digital imaging, and Cone Beam CT imaging to perform these special services.
For more information on the procedures we provide, please visit Services.

Is root canal treatment painful?

Many endodontic procedures including root canal treatment are performed to relieve pain of toothaches caused by pulp inflammation or infection. With modern techniques and anesthetics most people report that they are comfortable and pain free during the procedure. Obtaining treatment early can make the procedure more comfortable, so it is important not to wait until the pain is severe. For people experiencing severe pain, additional anesthetic administered through specialized techniques is required to alleviate pain and ensure the procedure is comfortable. Dr. Radatti and Dr. Duval will make sure you are profoundly numb and comfortable before starting treatment.

Can you sedate me for the procedure?

Yes. Dr. Radatti and Dr. Duval will consult with you about your sedation requirements. We provide parenteral (intravenous) minimal to moderate conscious sedation as well as pre-appointment oral anti-anxiety medications and nitrous oxide.

Will I feel pain after the procedure?

For the first few days after treatment, it is common to experience a mild ache in the area and some sensitivity to biting pressure, especially if there was a painful or infected area before the procedure. Over-the-counter or prescription pain medications are recommended for a day or two.
Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from 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 contact us.

What are the alternatives to endodontic treatment?

Though endodontic 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 bite and chew, cause other healthy teeth to shift and have a negative impact on your overall health. For these reasons, the extracted tooth should be replaced. Dr. Radatti and Dr. Duval will give you an unbiased professional opinion in conjunction with your primary dentist or other dental specialist of the best way to proceed.

What about infection control?

We adhere to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated for the dental profession by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association. We utilize autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection or cross contamination.

I’m worried about x-rays. Should I be?

Dental radiographic examinations require exposure to very low levels of radiation, which makes the risk of potentially harmful effects extremely small. Like any medical test, the beneficial information gained from the test should outweigh the risk of having the test performed. Intraoral dental x-rays, extraoral panoramic x-rays and dental cone beam computerized tomography (CBCT) are very powerful tools and valuable imaging techniques that can provide important information about your care and treatment.
At Valley Endodontics we prescribe to the ALARA principle. ALARA is an acronym for As Low As Reasonably Achievable. This is a radiation safety principle for minimizing radiation exposure to patients by: determining the need for and type of radiographs to take; using “best practices” during imaging, including the application of quality control procedures; and, interpreting the images completely and accurately. We incorporate the use of abdominal shielding (e.g., protective aprons) and thyroid collars (when feasible) on all patients, especially for children, women of childbearing age, and pregnant women. We also use digital imaging sensors which are the fastest image receptor requiring the lowest dose of radiation for diagnostic x-rays.
We believe that it is important for patients to have has much information as possible to enable them to make educated decisions about their care. To better understand your exposure we have listed the effective radiation dose from various dental and medical sources with a comparison to the normal background exposure to radiation in the United States.

How long will the treatment take?

This varies depending on the procedure that needs to be completed, the tooth in question, and the presence of infection or other complications. In general, treatment appointments are one hour to two hours in length. Many cases can be treated in a single visit; however more complicated cases typically require additional appointments.

Can I go back to work after my root canal?

Having a root canal is like having a deep filing. When you leave our office, your mouth will still be numb. However you can resume your day as you normally would. For patients receiving sedation please refer to our Post-Sedation Instructions.

What is the cost of treatment?

The cost for endodontic treatment is based on the extent of treatment required. Several factors determine the extent of treatment including the number of canals within a tooth and the complexity of the case. During your first visit we will discuss the probable number of visits, their length, and the fees involved. Endodontic fees usually range from $900 to $1,600. Because of the unique nature of our practice and the specialized care we provide, an accurate estimate of the costs involved is only possible following a comprehensive examination.

Can all teeth be saved with endodontic treatment?

Most teeth can be saved. Occasionally, a tooth cannot be saved because the root canals are not accessible, the root is severely fractured, the tooth does not have adequate bone support, or the tooth cannot be restored. However, advances in endodontics are making it possible to save teeth that even a few years ago would have been lost. When endodontic treatment is not effective, endodontic surgery may be able to save the tooth.

What causes an endodontic 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 very narrow or curved canals that could not be treated during the initial procedure.

Will my 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 a permanent protective restoration placed by your dentist. Until a protective restoration like a crown or permanent filling is placed on the tooth it is susceptible to fracture. You should see your dentist for a protective restoration within the first 2-3 weeks following your endodontic treatment. Otherwise, you need only practice good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular checkups and cleanings. Most endodontic treated teeth last as long as other natural teeth. In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment does not heal or the pain continues. Occasionally, the tooth may become painful or diseased months or even years after successful treatment. Often when this occurs, redoing the endodontic procedure can save the tooth.

Why did my dentist refer me to an Endodontist?

Most patients are referred to our practice by their primary care dentist or other dental specialist for diagnosis, management and treatment of both routine complex endodontic problems, and for providing endodontic treatment for patients with special needs: children, patients requiring sedation for management of fear & anxiety, severe gag reflex and TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder). Your dentist has referred you because they want to ensure that you are provided with the optimal care that you deserve.

Why would I need a root canal?

Endodontic treatment is necessary when the tooth pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The most common reasons for inflammation or infection are deep cavities (caries), repeated dental procedures, cracks or chips. Trauma can also cause inflammation and often shows up as discoloration of the tooth. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess. Signs to look for include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth, swelling of the gums, drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes as well as nearby bone and gingival tissues. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms.

What if I have questions after my root canal?

Patients are welcome to call with questions at any time (541)617-9736, and both doctors can be reached after hours in case of dental emergency.

What happens during a consult appointment?

Before your appointment you will receive an email from our office explaining how you may complete your medical history and registration material online. You may also complete your registration information in our office. Our skilled dental staff will review your pertinent medical history, obtain information about your current dental condition, and obtain a diagnostic digital dental radiograph of the area in question. Dr. Radatti and Dr. Duval will evaluate the area in question. Testing will be performed to check the vitality of the tooth in question as well as the teeth in front and back of it. After the exam Dr. Radatti and Dr. Duval will review the findings and go over all the treatment options. We take a conservative approach to treatment. If the diagnosis is questionable we may recommend no treatment, and ask you to monitor the tooth (area) as needed. During the consultation our doctors welcome any questions you may have.

Why do I need a consultation appointment before my root canal?

It is important to make sure that the tooth in question needs root canal treatment and to determine if the tooth will be amenable. If you are experiencing pain, it is important to determine if the tooth in question is the source of pain or if another tooth or structure is the source of pain. If root canal treatment is needed, proper examination will allow us to see if the tooth will be amenable to treatment.