Root Canals: Ask the Expert

Alex Wardian, DDS, Gilbert AZ Dentist - Cobblestone Dental Care

Alex Wardian DMD answers some questions about Root Canals.

When is a root canal recommended? 
Root canal therapy (RCT) is recommended when there is trauma or infection that extends into the pulp (inside of the tooth that holds the nerves and blood vessels) and the tooth has been determined to have a good-excellent prognosis.

What is done during a root canal?
During a root canal, the pulp is cleared and cleaned, files are used to clear and clean the canals that run the length of the roots.  The canals of the roots and pulp chamber are thoroughly rinsed with strong irrigation solutions.  The canals are then back-filled with a soft filling material.

Does a root canal hurt?
A root canal does not typically hurt because we make sure the tooth is completely numb before we work on it.  Sedation can be an option for those with high anxiety.

What happens if the tooth is left untreated? 
If the tooth is left untreated, an abscess under the tooth can develop which can spread and become very dangerous.  There is also the risk of the bacterial population from the infection spreading through your blood stream that can also have a dangerous outcome.

What is the follow-up needed after a root canal? 
Typically minimal follow up is needed.  A confirmation x-ray is usually taken 6 months post-RCT

What are possible consequences of having a root canal? 
The spread of abscess into airways/mucosal spaces and the spread of bacteria can be a risk.

How long will a tooth stay in the mouth after a root canal?
The tooth should then follow the protocol for a typical tooth, a tooth treated with root canal therapy, however, does become more brittle and a full coverage tooth crown is recommended.

Are there alternatives to a root canal? 
Once the trauma or infection reaches the pulp, the only was to access and disinfect the area is to do a root canal or have an extraction.

When is an extraction a better alternative? 
Extraction is a better alternative when the abscess has become very large, when the tooth has deteriorated and has no strong tooth structure remaining, or when there is a large vertical crack running down the roots.

When is a dental implant used? 
A dental implant is used to replace one or more teeth.

What are the advantages/disadvantages to a dental implant?  Advantages is that the implant tooth works and acts like a normal tooth.  Function is well maintained as well as aesthetics.  The disadvantages of implants is that there is usually a time period where there will be a missing tooth.  There are methods to keep a temporary tooth in its place while the implant is healing after being placed.

What is the chance of infection in a dental implant? 
Infection risk is very minimal but usually the same for regular teeth- smoking, irregular bites, bad oral habits/cleaning, irregular dental visits, etc.

Who is the ideal candidate for a dental implant? 
Ideal candidates are people that have no history of smoking or diabetes, who come the the dentist regularly and have excellent home care.  Typically there is slightly higher success with people that are younger but we do have incredible success with patients 60+ years old.



About Dr. Wardian:
Alex Wardian DMD, leads the practice at Cobblestone Dental Care. He was born and raised in Spokane, WA. Dr. Wardian attended Gonzaga University and Eastern Washington University for his undergraduate degrees and received his Doctoral of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Washington School of Dentistry. He has taken advanced courses in Implants, Root Canal Therapy and treatment of Periodontal Disease. 
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