Frequently Asked Questions

What is endodontics?
Recognized by the American Dental Association, Endodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry focused on the treatment of the pulp and surrounding tissues of a tooth. The visible part of your tooth is the crown, and the portion hidden beneath the gum line is the root. The root’s hard outer tissue is called cementum, and the inside channel, or root canal, contains your tooth’s pulp, a soft tissue composed of blood vessels and nerves. When tooth decay, periodontal disease or a fracture introduce bacteria into the pulp, discomfort and severe damage ensue.
Who performs endodontic treatment?
Your general dentist or an endodontic specialist, known as an endodontist, performs root canal treatment.

East Coast Endodontics, led by Dr. Jesse Harris, is a recognized leader in endodontic care. In addition to a comprehensive degree in dentistry, Dr. Harris completed two years of advanced endodontics training through an accredited advanced university program and specialized residency. Our practice is limited to endodontics, which includes performing routine root canals, completing corrective retreatments, apical surgery, and caring for medically complex patients.

Does a root canal hurt?
No, a root canal should not hurt. At East Coast Endodontics, a root canal is a gentle and painless experience because we use state-of-the-art technologies, innovative techniques and modern anesthesia practices to ensure our patients’ comfort.
How long does a root canal take?

Each case is unique; however, on average, a root canal takes approximately 45 to 60 minutes to complete.

What happens after treatment?

After your root canal therapy, we send a record of the treatment to your general dentist, and you should contact your general dentist’s office for a follow-up restoration (crown or filling to close the root canal access hole) within a few weeks.

Meanwhile, to prevent fracture, avoid eating on the treated tooth until it is restored by your dentist.

Will I need a check-up appointment after my root canal?

Yes. You may return to our office for periodic examinations to ensure complete healing of your tooth.

What about infection control?
Our office adheres to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association (ADA). As members of the Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures (OSAP), a group dedicated to advancing infection control, we use autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection.
What signs suggest that I need a root canal?

Knowing for sure if you need a root canal is something a dentist or an endodontist will need to diagnose for you. However, here are 12 major root canal signs and symptoms.

What are the signs of an infection after a root canal?

Although it is rare, it is possible to get a mild to serious infection after a root canal procedure. It is important to be aware of and recognize symptoms of infection early on to ensure the infection does not spread or lead to additional complications.  Here are the 5 things you should be on the lookout for after a root canal treatment.

How can I relieve pain after a root canal?

East Coast Endodontics takes patient comfort very seriously. Our state-of-the-art technology, modern anesthesia and proven pain relief practices allow the entire root canal procedure to be completely painless and for discomfort after the procedure to be quickly alleviated.  Follow these steps to relieve pain quickly after a root canal.

What should I eat (and avoid eating) after a root canal?

Eating inappropriate food after a root canal can lead to unnecessary pain. It can also increase the chance of breaking or damaging the tooth, which would lead to further complications and the possibility of needing additional dental treatments. Here are suggestions on what to eat after a root canal.

Are there risks involved with delaying a root canal?

At East Coast Endodontics, we know the idea of a root canal can make people anxious. However, sometimes a root canal is necessary to maintain a healthy mouth and body. The good news is root canals are pain free.  For those who opt out of necessary root canal treatments or delay them unnecessarily the risks and consequences can be severe.

How can I know the difference between root canal pain and general tooth pain?

Toothaches and pain can occur for a number of reasons. When tooth pain is accompanied by sensitivity to hot or cold food or drink, intense or persistent pain, discomfort when applying pressure, an abscess and/or fever you may need a root canal. An endodontist or dentist can properly diagnose you and recommend treatment, but there are several common ways to differentiate between root canal pain and general tooth pain.

What is the difference between a root canal and an extraction?

Often tooth decay and cavities are typically resolved with a filling. Other times, the tooth decay or damage reaches the nerve, also known as the pulp of the tooth. When this happens there are two treatment options available to prevent further health complications: a root canal or an extraction. There are several key differences between a root canal and an extraction.

What happens during a root canal surgery?

Root Canal surgery is performed only in the case where the root canal and the retreatment did not effectively eliminate the decayed root of the tooth and/or if an infection persists.  Root Canal surgery completely removes the infected root tip(s), the deepest portions of the root (called the apex) and any infected surrounding tissue. If you are near Richmond, Virginia and require apical surgery you should understand how East Coast Endodontics conducts this procedure.

Common root canal myths include...

Dental treatments can cause a bit of unnecessary anxiety for some people. This anxiety is often exacerbated by misinformation, or even myths, about particular treatments. This tends to be especially true when it comes to root canals.

What do I need to know about root canal retreatments?

root canal retreatment involves removing the crown or filling from the initial root canal procedure, re-cleaning the canal and then examining the root with a special surgical microscope and digital radiography to pinpoint remaining issues and to define additional treatments, if necessary.

East Coast Endodontics and Dr. Jesse Harris offer Richmond, Virginia the highest quality root canals and root canal therapies. To schedule an appointment, please contact us at: 804.559.3636.

What root canal vocabulary should I know?

When root canal patients arrive at our Richmond, Virginia offices, they are often confused by the various terms used in regard to different treatments. To ensure our patients understand our treatments and procedures, we created a root canal glossary of the most common terms used in discussing them.

How does tooth decay happen?

Tooth decay starts off as a tiny bit of damage to the outer most layer of the tooth (called the enamel), and with time it can evolve into serious dental issues requiring treatments ranging from filling a cavity to root canal surgery. To help our Richmond, Virginia area root canal patients avoid any additional dental complications; we like to share with them these 9 important tips on what causes and how to prevent tooth decay.

What is the history of the root canal?

The first signs of human beings treating the “inside of the tooth” or the root canal were believed to be around the second or third century B.C.

What is regenerative endodontics?

We published a post about treating dental injuries in children. At the time, though, we missed the opportunity to mention an exciting new area of research in our profession: regenerative endodontics.

Why is flossing important?

Brushing your teeth is superb at cleaning the outer surfaces of your teeth, which is important but only flossingcan effectively remove bits of food and tartar that have been lodged in between your teeth.

What tools are used in a root canal?

Root canals are complex dental procedures that require a variety of specialized tools. Your endodontist may use some or all of these root canal tools during your root canal procedure.

How can I overcome my fear of the dentist?

If you’re one of the many people that suffer dentophobia, you’re not alone. Here are some of the ways to overcome fear of the dentist so you can get back to taking care of your oral health appropriately.

What is root resorption?

Root resorption most commonly and naturally occurs in children to break down the roots of their baby teeth so they will fall out. Though it’s ultimately very rare, root resorption in adults can be a complicated issue.