Friday, September 22, 2017

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Why am I being referred?
A: Your dentist believes that your present needs require the services of a specialist, as some root canals are far more complex than others. We are an extension of your dentist's skill, care and concern for your well being.

Q: What is endodontic therapy - otherwise known as a root canal?
A: Root canal therapy involves cleansing, shaping and filling the tooth's pulp space to alleviate pain resulting from an unhealthy pulp. Decay, numerous fillings, fracture and trauma from dental procedures can all damage the tooth's pulp. Endodontic therapy saves teeth that otherwise would have to be extracted and provides dramatic pain relief.

Q: How can we make your treatment comfortable?
With local anesthetic, root canal therapy involves virtually no discomfort. Dr. Cunningham will administer your local anesthetic as gently as possible and double check prior to beginning that you are completely comfortable. We treat only one patient at a time. Except for unscheduled emergency patients, your appointment time is reserved just for you. Most treatment is completed in one visit. Before beginning treatment, all of your questions, including those about fees, will be answered. Blankets are provided in the office in case you are cold. Even though we have music in the office feel free to bring your own music and headphones. Some patients have tenderness after treatment and pain medication can be prescribed if needed.

Q: What makes this office different?
A: Our office is state-of-the-art in every way. We use only the most modern, safe and effective materials and methods. Treatment is provided while looking at your tooth through a surgical microscope. It provides unparalleled vision and treatment capability during root canal therapy. We use digital radiography in place of conventional dental x-rays. Digital radiography requires a fraction of the radiation needed for conventional x-rays and allows images to be viewed on a computer for better diagnosis and patient education.

Q: How successful is root canal treatment?
A: Root canal therapy is very successful, generally 95-100% depending on case complexity. A very small number of difficult teeth fail without apparent reason despite appropriate clinical treatment. Failure most often occurs because the tooth is not sealed (crowned) after root canal therapy, amongst other factors.

Q: What is re-treatment?
A: A failed root canal may necessitate a "re-treatment" of the original root canal. Re-treatment requires disassembly of the existing root canal and re-cleansing and re-filling of the pulp space. Success rates for re-treatment are very high, but not quite that of initial treatment.

Q: What is endodontic surgery?
Root canal therapy can, in some instances, have two phases: a non-surgical routine "root canal" phase and a second, surgical phase. The second surgical phase of treatment involves removing the very tip of the tooth's root and treating the remaining root end to heal the area. Surgery is the treatment of last resort before extraction. Surgical root canal treatment will involve additional fees.

Q: Can there be complications?
The vast majority of all root canal therapy is successful and is completed without complication. Although very infrequent, there are numerous potential complications that can occur during root canal therapy. The most common complication involves the accidental separation of files which are used to clean and shape the root canal space. If a file does separate, it can often be retrieved; if it cannot be retrieved, its presence generally will not impact the prognosis of treatment.

Q: How long will treatment take?
A: Every effort will be made to complete your tooth in one visit, although this is not always possible. Once started, root canal therapy is usually completed in one visit of approximately 30 minutes to one hour.

Q: Who does what treatment?
A: Our office provides you all endodontic treatment. Unless you are told otherwise, your general dentist will place a build-up (foundation filling) to permanently seal your tooth after your root canal. Your build-up or permanent filling should be placed within 2-3 weeks of your root canal. After the build-up, your general dentist will most likely recommend a new crown for your tooth. Please call your regular dentist as soon as possible to schedule an appointment for this additional treatment. Neglecting needed follow-up treatment could lead to failure of your new root canal and loss of your tooth.

Q: What is normal healing after a root canal?
A: Most patients have some mild soreness for a day or two after root canal treatment. For some patients, the sensitivity may last for a longer period of time (days to weeks). Generally, if the sensitivity is diminishing as time goes by, healing is taking place. If you have a question about what is normal, please call us. We will reevaluate your tooth at no charge in six months to make certain that your tooth is healing properly.

Q: What should I expect after treatment?
• Avoid chewing directly on the tooth after endodontic treatment as tenderness to pressure is normal. Switching to a softer diet may be necessary but otherwise eat what is comfortable on the opposite side.
• If moderate discomfort occurs, we recommend an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen (e.g. Advil, 3-4 tablets, 600-800 mg., every six hours). Aspirin as a second choice is recommended. Tylenol is a third choice for those who cannot take ibuprofen or aspirin. If a prescription pain medication is also required, take it as needed midway between your doses of ibuprofen, aspirin or Tylenol.
• If antibiotics are prescribed, be sure to follow the directions and finish the course of medication completely. If side effects occur (i.e. nausea, diarrhea, itching or rash), discontinue the antibiotic immediately and call our office.
• Gently clean the tooth and tissue around the area of treatment with a soft brush. It will not damage the tooth or tissue to brush the area gently.
• If you are under medication, do not drive or operate heavy equipment.

Q: What are the fees for treatment?
Fees charged per tooth can range from $700-1500 depending on case complexity. You are solely responsible for your account, not your insurance company or any other third party.

Q: What am I required to pay at this visit?
If you have dental insurance you will be asked to pay an estimated co-payment. Our office will attempt to verify the approximate co-payment from your insurance carrier prior to your appointment. If your insurance pays more than estimated pre-operatively, we will send you a refund. If not and a balance remains after the insurance payment, we will send you a statement due immediately. If you expect treatment to be performed and completed in one visit, be prepared to pay your estimated co-payment at the initial visit. Once an insurance payment is received in our office, any balance remaining is due immediately.
Please be aware of your insurance coverages and limitations. We will bill your insurance carrier for you. If your insurance company does not pay you will be billed the balance and payment is due immediately. Please be sure to provide us with correct insurance information. If you do not provide correct information, you will be required to bill your own insurance carrier once the error is discovered and your account is due in full immediately. We will provide the necessary forms should they be required.

Q: What else should I know?
• If you do not have dental insurance, payment is due in full at time of treatment unless you apply for credit.
• We accept most major credit cards.
• We accept Care Credit. Visit to apply before your appointment.
• Insurance companies tell patients what they consider "usual, customary and reasonable fees" (UCR) are for any given procedure. These fees are arbitrarily low and do not represent the true specialty fees in our area. Some specialists may charge a higher fee than our office and some lower for the same procedure. It is your responsibility to accept and consent to pay our fees before treatment. We will not adjust fees once treatment is completed under any circumstance.




Home  |  Our Office  |  Our Team  |  Endodontics  |  Contact Us  |  Online Forms  |  Articles  |  Testimonials

Copyright 2008 by Kevin P. Cunningham, D.D.S.