Fernando J. Meza, DMD, PLLC

H. Vivian Lee, DDS 

Loken M. Patel, DMD


P R A C T I C E   L I M I T E D   T O   E N D O D O N T I C S







Alexandria Professional Center

4660 Kenmore Ave. Suite 700

Alexandria, VA  22304

Patient - Frequently Asked Questions


What is Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatment is needed when the soft tissue inside the root of a tooth, known as the pulp, experiences inflammation or infection. Inflammation or infection can occur as a result of several things, including severe decay, repeated dental procedures, trauma, or the presence of a chip or crack  Often this injury occurs without any symptoms, however, if the tooth remains untreated, pain or sensitivity may occur and an abscess could develop.

Under a microscope, your endodontist will remove the inflamed or infected pulp, and then thoroughly cleanse and carefully reshape the canal. Afterwards the canal space is filled with either a temporary paste or a biocompatible permanent root filling. The temporary paste is often placed if your tooth is symptomatic or has signs of infection that merit follow up before the permanent root filling is placed. Your endodontist will place a temporary filling on the chewing surface in order to close the space between visits and after the root canal therapy is completed. You will need to see your general dentist two to three weeks after the root canal therapy is completed for a permanent restoration (filling or crown) of the tooth. This will protect the remaining tooth structure and restore it to its proper function.


What are the symptoms and how do I know if I need root canal therapy?

You may experience the following symptoms prior to needing root canal therapy: persistent or throbbing sensitivity to heat and/or cold; pain which wakes you in the middle of the night; pain which radiates to your lower jaw or ear; tooth discoloration; sensitivity to chewing and touch; or infection, drainage and sensitivity in the lymph nodes, nearby bone and gum tissues. However, sometimes you may not experience any symptoms but still be in need of endodontic treatment.


What will it happen to my tooth if I don't do the root canal treatment?

If you are not in pain at this point, you may experience pain later due to infection in the area surrounding the roots.  In order to preserve you natural tooth, root canal treatment is the only option.  Other alternatives is to extract your tooth and think on implants or bridges to replaced the extracted tooth.


Can I just get my tooth extracted instead of having root canal therapy?

Yes, as long as you consider filling the space with an implant or a bridge.  Not doing this, may prompt teeth to shift and may lead to problems with your bite or chewing ability.  This is why your dentist will always recommend replacing your extracted teeth.  Besides this, nothing can completely replace your natural tooth and Endodontic treatment is the only treatment that will allow you keeping your natural tooth.In addition, Endodontic treatment, along with appropriate restoration, is the most cost-effective and quickest way to treat damaged teeth compared to an implant or a bridge.  Endodontic treatment has a very high success rate.  Many root canal treated teeth last a lifetime.


Will it hurt during or after the treatment?

Many endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothache caused by pulp inflammation or infection. With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report that they are comfortable during the procedure.

For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications as recommended by your endodontist.

It is not unusual for your tooth to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is completed. If you have severe pain or pressure or pain that lasts more than a few days, however, call your endodontist.


How long will the treatment take?

Treatment time varies according to the tooth type and complexity of the roots and sometimes the presence of pre operative symptoms. Some teeth require multiple visits in order to thoroughly clean and disinfect the root canal system and to ensure that the presenting symptoms are gone. Most appointments are approximately one to two hours in length.


What happens after my root canal therapy is completed?

The endodontist will place a temporary filling in the crown of the tooth in order to seal the root canal space. We recommend that you see your general dentist two to three weeks after root canal therapy is completed in order to place the permanent filling or crown and restore the function of the tooth.