General Dentistry |4 min read

Ten Most Common Root Canal Questions (And Tips)

A cut-away diagram of a root canal, reading "Ten Most Popular Root Canal Questions"

Root canal treatment is a common dental procedure many people will undergo at some point in life.

Despite how common it is, you may be surprised by many of the truths about root canals – and the myths surrounding them.

We want to help clear things up by reviewing ten of the most common root canal FAQs.

Plus, we’ve added a bonus tip for root canal aftercare at the end, so let’s get right into it.

What is a root canal?

Root canal treatment is a procedure that dentists use to repair a badly decayed or fractured tooth.

When your tooth’s pulp becomes infected, your dentist will perform a root canal to drain the infected pulp, replacing it with synthetic material instead.

If the tooth is left untreated instead, the pain will get worse, and the gum disease may spread to other teeth, leading to more decay.

Do root canals hurt?

Thanks to local anesthesia, you won’t feel pain during the root canal procedure.

Some patients experience minor discomfort, but infected pulp is much more painful than any discomfort the procedure may cause.

Removing the infection removes the pain. Painful root canals are a myth.

How long does a root canal take?

Typically, a root canal treatment takes around 30 to 60 minutes to complete, though more complex cases can take up to 90 minutes or more.

You can typically get your treatment done in a single appointment.

Will I lose my tooth?

Root canals are designed to save your tooth, so no. During a root canal, infected pulp is removed, and the hole is covered by a dental crown after the fact.

Most of your tooth stays intact, and Dr. Da Costa will do his best to save your teeth.

However, we may recommend removing the tooth if the damage or decay is too extensive.

In that particular situation, replacing your tooth with a dental implant would be preferable to a root canal.

Do I need a root canal if the tooth doesn’t hurt?

If your tooth is decayed and you leave it untreated, you’ll only make matters worse.

Even if it doesn’t hurt right now, that decay could spread to other teeth.

If you wait until you are in significant pain, your dentist might have to perform a root canal on more than one tooth.

This will cost you more than if you had taken care of it earlier.

Can I smoke after a root canal?

You should avoid smoking in the days after a root canal procedure.

Your mouth is likely to feel tender or numb, and smoking reduces blood flow and can lead to complications.

Can I drive after a root canal?

In most cases, we administer a local anesthetic to keep you comfortable during the procedure, and you should be able to drive yourself home.

However, there are rare cases where you might feel lingering discomfort or distraction after treatment. If that occurs, it’s better to have someone drive you home.

Can I eat after a root canal?

We recommend soft foods after your procedure to avoid irritation and allow your mouth to recover.

Although you may be hungry, avoid eating until any numbness from the anesthetic has completely disappeared.

Some suitable soft foods include:

  • Scrambled eggs, yogurt, or a smoothie
  • Mashed potatoes, meatloaf, or shredded meat
  • Ripe or cooked fruit
  • Pasta, noodles, or couscous
  • Cooked vegetables

How can I avoid needing a root canal?

The best way is to visit Dr. Da Costa every six months for your regular checkup (i.e. comprehensive exams and hygiene cleanings).

When you visit Dr. Da Costa, he will check for tooth decay and signs of infection. If any are found, he will take care of it immediately before it worsens.

Being proactive with your oral health will save you time and money in the long run.

We’ve heard from patients before that they would wait until they felt pain to get a root canal – and sadly, their discomfort (and bill) were far greater than it would have been with preemptive treatment.

If your dentist recommends a root canal, don’t wait until you’re in pain. Take care of it now!

Will my insurance cover the procedure?

Yes, most dental insurance plans cover root canal treatment because it’s a necessary procedure.

At Harmony Dental, we understand that everyone has different circumstances, and we respect that.

To help with this, we accept the following:

  • Most insurances
  • CareCredit
  • Cash and credit cards

To discuss potential payment options and plans, give us a call today.

Bonus tip for root canal aftercare

What foods should I avoid after a root canal?

You should avoid certain foods to prevent possible complications after your procedure, including:

  • Very hot or very cold foods and drinks
  • Sticky foods
  • Chewy foods
  • Hard foods
  • Crunchy foods

Call us today if you have concerns about your teeth or need root canal advice.

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Harmony Dental is conveniently located in Beaverton, OR. We happily welcome patients from neighboring communities, including Tigard, Aloha, Portland, Cedar Hills, Lake Oswego, Raleigh Hills, Sherwood, Garden Home-Whitford, Tualatin, and West Slope.

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