Endodontist Frequently Asked Questions

What is endodontics?

Endodontics is a specialty branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association involving treatment of the pulp (tissue within the root canal) and surrounding tissues of the tooth. When you look at your tooth in the mirror, what you see is the clinical crown. The rest of the tooth, the portion hidden beneath the gum line, is called the root. Though the outer portion of the root is a hard tissue called dentin, the inside channel or “root canal” contains a pulp of soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems, can severely damage the pulp. When that happens, an endodontic specialist removes the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform normally and can be retained indefinitely.

Should I be worried about x-rays?

No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontic treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, which produces radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of already low-dose modern, conventional dental x-ray machinery. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed, and sent to your general dentist or other dental specialists via e-mail, or disk.

What about root canal infection control?

We adhere to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated for the dental profession by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control, and the American Dental Association. We utilize autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection or cross contamination-so there’s no need for concern.

What happens after root canal treatment?

When your root canal therapy has been completed, a report of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact their office right away for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. A crown is a very popular and appropriate option. Click here to view the post-op instruction sheet.

Can I be sedated for my root canal procedure?

Yes, you can. While most people prefer to have the procedure performed under local anesthesia only, which renders the procedure completely painless, others might prefer to be sedated as well. Three levels of dental sedation are available.

  1. Nitrous oxide sedation makes use of “laughing gas” to reduce anxiety and produce a state of emotional and physical relaxation conducive to the procedure. The expense is minimal, and if it means the difference between peace and comfort instead of anxiety and fear for you, we recommend it.
  2. Conscious sedation involves the combination of laughing gas sedation with a sedative-hypnotic medication taken by mouth. This produces a greater degree of sedation still, requires an evaluation appointment at an earlier date, and necessitates bringing an escort with you to drive you home on the day of treatment.
  3. IV sedation requires an anesthesiologist who “put you to sleep” in our office. This procedure requires an evaluation appointment at an earlier date and necessitates bringing an escort with you to drive you home on the day of treatment. The patient pays the anesthesiologist at the time of service. The fee is approximately $300.00 an hour.

How many appointments will a root canal take?

Most root canals are now completed in a single appointment. There are exceptions. Highly infected teeth are often fully instrumented on a first visit and have an anti-bacterial paste placed within the tooth to allow thorough disinfection prior to filling the root canal on the second, shorter visit. This second-level disinfection process helps ensure success and minimizes the likelihood that any further treatment will be needed.

What if my tooth cannot be saved with a root canal?

While root canal therapy is usually preferable to extraction (i.e. having your tooth pulled), there are conditions and situations which do, in fact, indicate extraction over root canal therapy. Provo endodontist Dr. Jon Jenson at Cascade Endodontics in Orem will give you an accurate and unbiased professional opinion on whether an endodontic procedure or a restorative procedure would be best for your specific situation. Bridges and dental implants are both good options to replace missing teeth.

What if I am scared of even the idea of a root canal, should I just have my tooth pulled instead?

First, recognize that you are not alone in your fear. Many people fear the idea of root canal therapy since they don’t know exactly what to expect or have heard negative commentary.

Second, consider the fact that people often inadvertently lump the memory of their dental pain associated with the need for root canal therapy in with the treatment itself. The indication for root canal therapy is often an excruciating toothache. In contrast, the treatment of that condition, known as root canal therapy, is pain-relieving! So allow us to put you at ease, and take care of your endodontic needs painlessly, with precision and compassion.

Third, carefully weigh your options. The most common alternative to having a root canal performed is extraction (i.e. having your tooth pulled). In carefully controlled clinical studies, patients who have had extractions performed (i.e. had their teeth pulled) report more pain and pressure during the extraction and more post-operative pain and complications after extraction than patients who have had root canal therapy performed instead. With root canal therapy you will still have your natural tooth and by extracting it you will not. Lastly, while root canal therapy is usually preferable, there are conditions and situations which do, in fact, indicate extraction over root canal therapy. Orem endodontist Dr. Jon Jenson at Cascade Endodontics in Utah County will give you an accurate and unbiased professional opinion whether an endodontic procedure or a restorative procedure would be best for your specific situation.

Finally, at Cascade Endodontics in Utah County we offer various levels of sedation dentistry to help you have an comfortable and relaxed root canal or other endodontic procedure.

What new technologies are being used?

Operating Microscopes:

In addition to digital radiography, we utilize special operating microscopes. Magnification and fiber optic illumination are helpful in aiding the doctor to see tiny details inside your tooth. Also, a tiny video camera on the operating microscope can record images of your tooth to further document the doctor’s findings.

Apex Locators:

These modern electronic devices are used by your endodontist to measure the lengths of your tooth’s roots. Their use saves both time and minimizes the number of needed x-rays.


It used to be the case that the presence of a post, in a tooth requiring retreatment of root canal therapy, was a common indication for surgical retreatment because of the difficulty and length of the post removal procedure. But with the advent of ultrasonic instrumentation, post-removal procedures can now be performed over the course of minutes. Our speed in accomplishing this procedure at Apex Endodontics is further enhanced by our ultramodern dual ultrasonic system.

Rotary Nickel-Titanium Instruments:

Performing a root canal with only the use of hand instruments used to be a process so time-consuming that it would take 4 or 5 visits to complete. A lot has changed. Modern rotary file systems using nickel-titanium instrumentation have greatly reduced the need for multiple visits and produces a more consistent result.

Cone Beam Dental Imaging:

KODAK 9000 3D Extraoral Imaging System combines the power of focused-field 3D technology with cutting-edge panoramic imaging, this unit delivers unprecedented detail making it ideal for most dental applications.