Endodontics is a branch of dentistry that involves the removal of a tooth’s inner tissues, which could be inflamed from injuries or diseases. Removal of these tissues helps prevent pain associated with tooth infection. Mostly, endodontic procedures are performed before another restorative procedure, like dental crowns.

Endodontic surgery, root canals, and endodontic retreatment are the most common procedures your dentist could recommend for a problematic tooth. Endodontic services may be necessary in a dental emergency where you injure your tooth or after a prolonged dental complication like tooth decay or cavities. While extracting a problematic tooth could seem like a solution to relieve pain, inflammation, and discomfort, tooth loss can severely impact oral health.

Some adverse effects of tooth loss include shifting the remaining teeth, difficulty chewing your food, and jawbone deterioration. Restoration of a lost tooth can be a complex and costly procedure. Therefore, endodontic procedures help you save your natural tooth from extraction and avoid further oral health complications. At Washington Dental, we offer expert care for all our patients seeking endodontic dental services in Carson, CA.

Understanding Endodontic Dentistry

Your oral health is complex. Different branches of dentistry deal with prevention, restoration, treatment, and cosmetic dental issues. When you consult a dentist with dental complications, retaining your natural teeth should be the main goal of your procedures. Endodontics focuses on complex dental problems that affect the pulp, including pulpitis, tooth decay and sudden injuries.

The tooth pulp is your tooth's innermost layer, which contains blood vessels and nerves. When bacteria enter the tooth pulp, it can cause infection. The symptoms of tooth infection include inflammation, pain, and tooth sensitivity.

An endodontist will use advanced techniques, including root canals and endodontic surgery, to remove the infected part and fill the tooth. This relieves the symptoms of infection and prevents tooth extraction.

Root Canal

Poor oral health and hygiene could cause tooth decay and cavities, which expose the inner part of your teeth to bacteria. The bacteria in your tooth pulp cause an infection that could result in severe toothache and other dental complications.

A root canal is the most common endodontic procedure, and it involves the removal of the infected root pulp to relieve pain and discomfort. In addition to relieving the pain, the root canal restores your tooth's function and saves it from extraction. Some of the indications that you need a root canal include the following:

  • Prolonged toothache. Many dental complications cause toothache. You may need root canal therapy if you experience deep pain that radiates to your jaw.
  • Extreme tooth sensitivity. You may have a root infection if you experience pain from eating hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks. Sensitivity that does not go away after a few seconds may require you to undergo a root canal.
  • A gum boil. When your tooth is infected, you could develop a boil or pimple on the gum around the infected tooth. If you consult an endodontist with this symptom, they could assess your oral health and recommend a root canal.
  • Pain when you apply pressure to a tooth. If you experience pain when you chew your food or bite on something hard, the nerves in your teeth may be infected.
  • Tooth discoloration. An infection of the tooth cuts off the blood supply, causing your teeth to appear darker than usual.
  • Cracked or chipped teeth. A cracked tooth can be an entryway for bacteria in the pulp. These bacteria cause infections that could cause further dental complications.

Whether or not you need a root canal to save your teeth is determined by your dentist after assessing your tooth condition and performing various tests to determine the extent of infection. Mostly, the root canal will be followed by other procedures like the placement of crowns and dental implants.

Root canal therapy takes several dental visits, and you can do the following to prepare for the procedure:

  • Take your medications. Your endodontist will give you some antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication to take a few days before your first root canal appointment. This will help clear the infection and prevent post-procedure complications.
  • Avoid smoking. Tobacco and its products affect your body’s ability to heal. Your dentist will recommend avoiding smoking for a few days before and after the procedure to promote healing.
  • Eat healthy foods. Before a root canal procedure, your endodontist will numb your mouth and gums. You will need help to eat. Therefore, it would be best to eat before your appointment.

Depending on the extent of the tooth infection, your root canal procedure can take one or two dental appointments. A root canal procedure takes between thirty and sixty minutes.

Root Canal Procedure

Before the root canal procedure begins, your endodontist will recommend an x-ray of the infected tooth to determine the extent of nerve damage. The steps taken during a root canal include:

  • Administration of Anesthesia. A root canal is performed on an already infected tooth that causes you severe pain and discomfort. Since the procedure will involve drilling the tooth to remove the infected pulp, anesthesia will be administered to prevent pain. Additionally, anesthesia helps you relax and reduce anxiety.
  • Dental dam placement. Your endodontist places a rubber dam over your gums before they start the root canal. The dental dam keeps your gums dry during the procedure.
  • Access hole creation. After placing a dental dam, your endodontist will drill a hole in the tooth crown to access the infected area.
  • Pulp removal. The dentist inserts dental instruments through the drilled hole to remove the damaged nerves and blood vessels inside your tooth.
  • Canal shaping. After removing the infected pulp, the pulp chamber will be removed, disinfected, and shaped before the empty canals are filled with a temporary or permanent seal.
  • Placement of a dental restoration. Mostly, a root canal saves an infected tooth before placing other restorations, like a crown. Crowns are custom-made to restore the function of your teeth. Your endodontist may recommend a crown after the root canal to protect the remaining tooth.

Many people are afraid to undergo invasive dental procedures due to their low tolerance for pain. Due to the use of anesthesia and other numbing agents, the root canal is not painful. You will likely experience relief from the symptoms of your tooth infection immediately after the first procedure.

Although you may not experience pain after a root canal, many people feel sensitivity, which could be relieved with pain medications. Some of the benefits of a root canal include:

  • Prevents infection of surrounding teeth.
  • Ease the pain and discomfort associated with an infected tooth.
  • Eliminate the need for tooth extractions.
  • Prevent jawbone damage.

A root canal is a safe procedure that helps save your tooth. When a knowledgeable endodontist performs the procedure, you can immediately experience relief. However, your oral health and immunity could impact the procedure's outcome. Common complications associated with root canals include:

Tooth Discoloration

The pulp is the living part of your tooth. A dentist will recommend a root canal when this part is infected. Removal of the pulp cuts blood flow to the tooth, which can cause discoloration of the enamel. This complication can be remedied with veneers or dental crowns.

Sinus Congestion

A common risk of a root canal is damage to the sinuses. This occurs when the damaged tooth is in the upper jaw. Sinus congestion can happen when the liquid in your jaw leaks through the membranes into your nose. Although sinus congestion is not life-threatening, it can cause severe headaches and discomfort. You could have sinus damage if you experience a constant salty taste in your mouth after a root canal.


When you undergo a root canal procedure, you expect to recover from the tooth infection and restore the function of your tooth. Unfortunately, there is always a chance that the root canal could fail to address the condition. The most feared complication of a root canal is reinfection.

Your endodontist will take all measures to prevent reinfection, including washing and disinfecting the pulp area. Tooth reinfection can happen at any stage of the root canal. A common reason your tooth may be re-infected is if the endodontist fails to correctly seal the tooth after removing the tooth pulp.

Tooth Cracking

A tooth treated with a root canal will never be as strong as other teeth. This is because the endodontist will drill the tooth and remove part of the enamel to access the infected part. Another reason your tooth may be prone to cracking is the lack of nourishment the pulp provides.

Nerve Damage

When the infection in your tooth is severe, the procedure may take several visits. Constant insertion of sharp tools into your tooth can cause nerve damage to the tooth and surrounding areas. Nerve damage causes numbness and pain in your teeth and jaw.

Endodontic Retreatment

Root canal treatment can last a lifetime if you properly care for your teeth and gums. Unfortunately, sometimes your tooth does not heal from the procedure, causing pain and discomfort over the months and years following the procedure. If your tooth does not heal properly or has additional complications after a root canal, you may have a second chance to save it through an endodontic retreatment.

Like other dental procedures, a root canal can fail or have unexpected results. Some of the reasons for a failed root canal include:

  • The curved or narrow canals were not treated properly during the first root canal procedure.
  • You have complicated canal anatomy that the endodontist did not detect in your initial procedure.
  • Delayed tooth restoration after the root canal. Dental restorations, like a tooth crown, mostly follow the root canal. When the restoration is delayed, the tooth will be exposed to further infection and complications.
  • Improper restorations did not protect the tooth from saliva contamination. When dental restorations are done incorrectly, there could be gaps that allow saliva contamination to enter the pulp chamber.

Sometimes, a new problem can arise after a root canal, creating a need for retreatment. Common complications that may occur include exposure of the root canal material to bacteria, resulting in a new infection. Besides, a crack in the tooth or restoration material can be an entryway for bacteria.

Before you undergo endodontic retreatment, your endodontist will discuss your options. If you agree to receive a retreatment procedure, the specialist will reopen the tooth and access the root canal filling material. During this procedure, the restoration material must be disassembled.

After opening the tooth, the endodontist can clean the canals and examine the area using magnification instruments. This helps detect infections or unusual anatomy that could be causing complications. When the canals are clean and disinfected, the endodontist will fill them with temporary filling material.

If you have large or blocked canals, you may need endodontic surgery to prevent further complications that could cause you to lose the tooth. When the endodontist's work is complete, you must return to your dentist to fit a dental crown to protect and restore full tooth function.

Cost of Endodontic Retreatment

Undergoing retreatment after a root canal can be devastating. You may have experienced severe pain and discomfort after the procedure. Additionally, you may incur more costs to treat the tooth and achieve the desired outcome. Cost is a significant concern for individuals who need to undergo endodontic retreatment.

The cost you will incur for endodontic retreatment varies depending on the level of complication. The retreatment may be more complicated if you have a complicated root canal procedure. The endodontist must replace the filling material, which sometimes damages the restoration.

Although dental insurance would cover the cost of endodontic treatment, some policies limit the amount they can pay. When you receive a recommendation for endodontic retreatment, you must consult with your insurance provider to determine their level of coverage.

Is Endodontic Retreatment the Best Option for Me?

Saving your natural teeth is the best resource when you face dental complications. Natural teeth are easier to maintain and function better. Whether or not endodontic treatment is the best option for you will depend on the type of complication with your root canal.

A root canal can fail after a few weeks, months, or years. With advancements in dental technology, your endodontist can use the latest treatment methods for your retreatment procedure. Like other procedures, there is no guarantee that a retreatment procedure can save your tooth. Therefore, you must discuss your options with a competent endodontist.

Endodontic Surgery

Dental infections and complications vary in severity. Sometimes, a non-surgical root canal may not be enough to remove an infected pulp and eliminate the infected root area. If the standard root canal is ineffective in saving your tooth, your endodontist could recommend a surgical procedure.

Endodontic surgery is a more effective way to remove infected nerves and blood vessels from your inner tooth by opening up the gums. This allows for easier access to the affected area. Surgery can save your tooth in the following ways:

  • Surgery helps with diagnosis. If you have severe symptoms after a root canal, X-rays could miss them during an assessment. For example, your tooth may have a crack that could have been missed during the non-surgical procedure. The problem may be detected and treated to avoid further complications if you undergo endodontic surgery.
  • Calcium deposit removal. Your tooth undergoes calcification when calcium deposits make the tooth canal narrow. This prevents the use of non-surgical instruments for the removal of the pulp. In this case, a surgical procedure will be necessary to remove the calcification.
  • Act as retreatment. Retreatment may be necessary when your tooth fails to recover properly from an initial tooth canal. Sometimes, your endodontist may try a different approach to address the issue, which could include a surgical procedure.
  • Bone treatment. Infection of the tooth will not only damage the tooth enamel but can also cause complications with the jawbone. Undergoing endodontic surgery helps address all oral health complications and avoid tooth loss.

The most common type of dental surgery is an apicoectomy, which involves opening up the gum tissue around the infected or inflamed tooth. This increases access for the removal of the inflamed part. After this procedure, your endodontist will place a small filling and stitch the gum.

Other forms of orthodontic surgery involve cutting a problematic tooth in half and removing the inflamed part. Since orthodontic surgery is a complicated procedure, you must seek the services of a reliable orthodontist.

Orthodontic Surgery Procedure

Your endodontist could recommend surgery if they believe it is the only way to save your infected tooth. For most people, the alternative to this surgery is extracting the problematic tooth. Endodontic surgery happens in two appointments, including:


You must schedule an appointment with your orthodontist before you undergo the surgery. During this initial visit, the endodontist will perform an X-ray around the problematic tooth. The x-ray helps detect the nature and extent of damage an infection may have done to your tooth. Your endodontist will assess your medical and dental records to predict and avoid any complications that could arise from the surgery.

In addition to an assessment, your endodontist will walk you through the details of the procedure. This allows you to make an informed decision about the procedure. Before you leave your initial appointment, the cost of your procedure will be discussed. You must consult your insurance company to determine whether they can cover your surgery.

The Surgical Procedure

Although the endodontic surgery takes up to 45 minutes, you may need one or two hours on your surgery day. Your endodontist will follow the following steps for your procedure:

  • Administration of anesthesia. For most oral surgeries, anesthesia will relieve pain and discomfort. If you have allergies to anesthesia, you should inform your endodontist before you begin.
  • Surgical incision. When your mouth and gums are numb, the specialist will cut open the gum around the problematic tooth. This allows for access to the infected tooth root.
  • Removal of the infected tissue and the root end.
  • Placement of a filling to seal the end of the root canal.
  • Examination of your tooth structure for any cracks or unforeseen damage.
  • Placement of gum tissue back to its original position.
  • Final X-ray, which is sent to your family dentist.

After endodontic surgery, you may experience slight bleeding and swelling of your gums, which is normal. Your endodontist will give you some aftercare procedures that you must follow for proper healing and the prevention of surgical complications. Post-surgical instructions for this type of procedure include:

  • Rest. Following your endodontic surgery, you may need to rest for the remainder of the day, allowing your body to heal.
  • Medications. Your orthodontist will recommend antibiotics and pain medications for several days after the surgery.
  • Ice. You can relieve the swelling and pain from your surgery by placing ice cubes on the surgical site.
  • Eating. You could eat when you feel comfortable after your surgery. However, you should avoid biting on hard foods that could cause injury to the surgical site.
  • Oral hygiene. While you need to maintain proper oral hygiene after oral surgery, brushing your teeth immediately after the procedure can cause more injuries to the surgical site. When you resume brushing, ensure that you use a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Find Endodontic Dental Services Near Me

If you have an infected or damaged tooth that causes you pain and discomfort, extracting it will only offer temporary relief. Damage to the root pulp may result from disease or an injury to the tooth. The impact of missing teeth can be severe. Therefore, you will be referred to an endodontist for treatment to relieve the pain and save your tooth. Common endodontic procedures include root canals, endodontic retreatment, and endodontic surgery.

When you consult your dentist with symptoms of tooth infection, you will undergo a full assessment to determine the exact cause of the pain in your tooth and the appropriate endodontic treatment procedure.

Your oral health is a critical part of your overall health. The outcome of an endodontist procedure can severely impact your well-being. Therefore, you will require the services of a reliable endodontist. At Washington Dental, we offer safe services for all our patients seeking reliable endodontic dental care in Carson, CA. Call us at 310-217-1507 today to book an appointment with one of our specialists.