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Jeffrey B. Pafford, D.M.D., M.S.
FAQ
Common Questions

What is a root canal?

The procedure of a root canal is the process of removing unhealthy tissue from the space within the tooth. During this process the tooth is disinfected to remove inflammation or infection. After the canal space is cleaned and dried, it is filled with a root canal filling material to minimize the re-entry of bacteria. Root canal treatment, if indicated, allows you to preserve your natural tooth in a healthy state.


Why do you use a microscope?

Dr. Pafford and his assistants use the microscope throughout every dental procedure. The microscope provides optimum visibility and illumination to give you the best treatment outcome possible. Microscopes are essential in providing endodontic treatment at the highest level, and they have numerous clinical benefits:

  • The microscope allows for the use of smaller instruments and more precision during treatment. Conservation of tooth structure is the key to the best, longest-lasting outcomes.
  • The increased magnification of the microscope allows Dr. Pafford to minimize the size of the operative site, thereby minimizing healing time.
  • The microscope allows Dr. Pafford to identify tooth canals and locate problems such as cracks and root fractures.
  • The use of the microscope increases efficiency and often saves you from additional and more complex procedures.

Will the treatment be uncomfortable?

We will take every measure to ensure that your procedure is comfortable. If treatment is needed, the tooth will be gently numbed. For most patients, the feeling of numbness usually subsides after 2-3 hours.


Will it take more than one visit?

While some root canals are done in one visit, many are done in two visits due to severe pain, swelling, persistent drainage or complex anatomy. A second or third visit does not mean you will need to pay more. It just means that we want to give you the best quality root canal regardless of the number of visits it will require.


Will I need more dental treatment after my root canal?

Dr. Pafford will inform you of any any additional treatment needed in our office or in your general dentist’s office.  Often root canal treated teeth will require a crown to be done by your general dentist.


Will I need to return to your office for follow-ups after the procedure is finished?

Yes. For most root canal treatments, we recommend that patients return to the office one year after the procedure was finished. Our office will send a reminder notice to you when you are due for a recall appointment. There is no charge for this visit.


The tooth is still uncomfortable a week later. Is that normal?

A root canal treated tooth will not have any hot or cold sensitivity, but could be tender to touching or biting for a few days, possibly up to a month.  After the root canal, your body begins the healing process and your tooth will become more comfortable over time.


I have heard of implants. Are they better than root canals?

Maintaining your natural teeth is one of our priorities, but if we feel that root canal treatment is not predictable, then a dental implant may be indicated. Implants are great for replacing missing teeth and we will recommend one if we believe that it is a better long-term investment in your health. The use of the dental operating microscope helps in predicting the outcome of treatment.


Do you take my insurance?

Yes. We accept payment from all insurance companies. Your treatment is customized to your exact needs so that we can provide you with the best possible care. Due to insurance regulations we are not able to submit for payment until your treatment is complete; therefore, we ask for one half of the cost of the procedure at the time of treatment. From there we will submit a claim to your insurance company and most of the time they cover the remaining balance. We also offer financing options through Care Credit. Ultimately the patient is responsible for all fees. Our policy is outlined in greater detail and will be explained further at your first appointment.


What if I decide NOT to have a root canal?

The alternative to root canal treatment is removal of the tooth. Once the pulp is affected beyond its ability to heal, it will lead to either an inflammatory response or an infective reaction.  Neither is healthy, and both require some form of treatment. While some people prefer extraction, it is usually advisable to keep your natural tooth, if possible.


What happens during endodontic treatment?

A local anesthetic will be given to thoroughly numb your tooth. A protective sheet of plastic called a rubber dam will be placed around the tooth to keep it clean and dry during treatment. The infected or inflamed tissue is then removed and a filling material is placed into the canals. The number of visits will depend on your particular case. Most treatments take two visits, but some are just a single visit. Occasionally, three or more appointments are needed. Root canal treatment or endodontic therapy has a very high degree of success. We will discuss with you the chances of success before any endodontic procedure to help you make an informed decision.


Are there any other fees or procedures associated with root canals?

Dr. Pafford will do a thorough examination including any radiographs.  There is no charge for radiographs in our office.  However, if a 3-D scan is needed, there is a separate fee for that.  The examination is very important and approximately 40% of patients referred to our office for root canals do not get one.  Dr. Pafford believes in a conservative approach and long lasting outcomes.  If a root canal is determined to not be in your best interest, Dr. Pafford will let you know.  Dr. Pafford will help guide you to the best treatment options, but the decision is yours.  Often Dr. Pafford does the final restoration following completion of the root canal.  The type of restoration needed and its associated costs will be determined during the consultation or first visit of treatment.


Once my treatment is complete, will I need to return to your office for additional visits?

When your endodontic therapy is completed, Dr. Pafford will explain whether or not your tooth will need additional treatment at your general dentist's office. Dr. Pafford will explain what type of restoration he placed and what, if any, additional treatment your tooth will require. Dr. Pafford will work closely with your general dentist to provide the best outcome for you. We would like to see you in our office one year after completion of the root canal treatment to ensure that the tooth is healing properly. There will be no charge for this follow up visit, and you will be contacted when we feel it is appropriate to check the area.