FAQs on Root Canal Therapy & Endodontic Treatment

What is endodontics (root canal therapy)?

Endodontics is a branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association that deals with the treatment of pulp and surrounding tissues of a tooth. When you look at your tooth in the mirror, what you see is the crown. The rest of the tooth, the portion hidden beneath the gum line, is the root. The outer portion of the root is a hard tissue called dentin. The inside channel, or root canal, contains the pulp – soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria introduced into the pulp because of tooth decay, periodontal disease, or a fracture can cause inflammation and severely damage the pulp.

To save the tooth and prevent further problems, the endodontist removes the diseased pulp. After successful treatment, your general dentist will restore the tooth to normal function.

What is the first step involved?

We start with a limited diagnostic examination. In consultation with your general dentist, we will determine if your tooth is a good candidate for endodontic therapy and explain your treatment options.

The next step is usually nonsurgical treatment to eliminate the diseased pulp. The injured pulp is removed and the root canal system is thoroughly cleansed and sealed. This therapy involves local anesthesia and is usually completed in one visit, however it may require additional visits depending on the treatment required. We will inform you as soon as possible if we determine that your tooth is not suitable for root canal treatment or the prognosis changes anytime during the course of therapy. In most cases, after endodontic treatment, you will be comfortable returning immediately to your normal routine.

Generally, nonsurgical treatment is all that is needed to save a tooth with an injured pulp. In cases where a root canal procedure has been previously performed and healing has not occurred, re-treatment of the root canal or endodontic surgery are two options to repair and retain a tooth.

What happens after treatment?

When your root canal therapy has been completed, we will send a record of the treatment to your general dentist. You should contact that office for a final restoration within a few days of completion of treatment at our office. Meanwhile, to prevent a fracture, avoid eating on the treated tooth until it is restored. It is a very important part of your treatment to have your tooth restored by your general dentist. Your dentist will consult with you about what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth.

What are the alternatives to Endodontic Treatment?

Extraction is the only alternative. Unless a tooth is replaced, adjoining teeth will shift, interfering with biting and chewing. Loss of a tooth can lead to gum disease and loss of additional teeth. Replacing a tooth with a bridge or an implant will result in significantly more time in treatment, and often requires dental procedures on healthy adjacent teeth and supporting tissues. Endodontic treatment, along with appropriate restoration, is a cost effective way to treat teeth with damaged nerves, and is usually less expensive than a bridge or implant.

What about infection control?

Our office adheres to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by OSHA, (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), the US Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association. We utilize autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection.

State-of-the-Art Technologies

We use the most advanced technologies available to ensure your comfort, including:

3D Cone Beam Imaging: Our office uses a Carestream CS 9000 3D Cone Beam Scanner (CBCT) to assist us with diagnosis and treatment.  This unit provides among the lowest radiation exposure and the highest detail of similar units on the market today.  A CBCT scan provides a highly detailed 3-dimensional CT scan image of your tooth and surrounding structures, overcoming some of the significant limitations of traditional dental x-rays. Our use of CBCT imaging allows us to provide the highest level of care, and will reduce the number of costly and time consuming exploratory procedures.

Modern Local Anesthetics and Techniques: Dr. Smith’s goal is to do everything he can to ensure that you will not feel anything during the procedure. He is very skilled with local anesthetic techniques, and takes time to test that an area is completely numb before beginning a procedure.

Operating Microscopes: We use microscopes during many phases of your endodontic treatment. High magnification allows us to see small details inside your tooth such a fractures and calcified canals. Another aid is the small camera on the operating microscope that records images of your tooth and also documents our findings.

Digital Radiography: All radiographs in our office are taken with digital sensors. The image is available for instant viewing on a computer monitor. Digital radiography significantly reduces radiation levels when compared with film-based dental x-rays. These digital images can be transferred to co-therapists via the Internet.

Does Endodontic Treatment hurt?

Most stories of pain related to root canal procedures are a holdover from days before adequate anesthetics, and modern technology. Today root canal treatment involves little or no discomfort. When there is pain beforehand, the treatment brings relief.


Endodontic fees are based on the complexity of the procedure. You will be advised of the fees for each procedure when you schedule your appointment for treatment, or at the time of your consultation.

Payment is due in full at the time of the service. We accept personal checks, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, Carecredit, debit cards, and cash.

If you have dental insurance, please speak with our patient coordinator about payment.

Please give at least 48 hours notice of appointment change

Holland Root Canal Specialists
Michael A. Smith, DDS, MS
12662 Riley St. Suite #130
Holland, MI 49424

ph. 616-399-6811
fx. 616-399-6812