My Blog

Posts for: April, 2011

By Drake Tollefson DDS
April 24, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: oral health   root canal  

One of the most common treatments we are asked about is a root canal and the unfortunate bad reputation associated with it. The truth is that the procedure actually relieves the pain associated with the problem and not visa versa. And here's why.

A root canal or endodontic treatment (“endo” – inside; “dont” – tooth) is a necessary procedure in which diseased pulp tissue — and the nerve, which responds by causing the pain — is removed. This is followed by cleaning and sealing the root canals. This usually results from pulp inflammation and infection as a result of a severe decay or in a heavily filled tooth. Root canal treatment is typically performed by general dentists who have taken specialized training or by endodontists, dentists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of root canal problems. We perform them here in our practice to save a tooth, literally, from further damage and/or loss.

Here is a quick overview of the procedure. We will begin by making a small opening in the chewing surface of your tooth so that we can access the tooth's root canal. We use small instruments to remove the dead and dying tissues of the pulp. The root canals are cleaned and disinfected. The canals are then sealed with a biocompatible filling material. Lastly, we will seal the access hole with a filling material. You will then need to get a permanent restoration or crown to protect the tooth fully.

If you feel that you have the symptoms of a root canal problem and may need a root canal treatment, contact us to schedule an appointment. And to learn more about the signs, symptoms, and what to expect after root canal treatment, read the article “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”


By Drake Tollefson DDS
April 17, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: tooth decay   oral health   root canal  

While some people associate the need for root canal treatment with an injury or trauma to a tooth (which is a valid cause), it can also most commonly be caused by tooth decay that is left untreated. This is the reason why we have put together this brief guide to explain the three common stages of tooth decay that lead up to the need for a root canal.

Stage 1: During this stage, decay begins to form in the tiny grooves on the biting surface of a tooth or where the teeth contact each other. The result is loss of the surface enamel of the tooth.

Stage 2: Left untreated, the disease progresses through the enamel and into the dentin, which forms the body of the tooth. Once in the dentin, it progresses more rapidly until it reaches the pulp — the living tissue within the root canals of the tooth. The decay infects the pulp tissues, which contain the nerves of the teeth, causing pain. The end result of inflammation and infection of the pulp is that it dies.

Stage 3: As the nerve dies an infection results, which causes pain and swelling. For some people who do not regularly visit our office, this may be the first physical sign that they have a problem. But all is not lost, a successful root canal treatment, whereby the infected pulpal tissue is removed and the root canals are cleaned and sealed will not only relieve the pain, but save your tooth. So the good news is that once a tooth has had the appropriate endodontic treatment (“endo” – inside; “dont” – tooth) followed by a proper restoration, the tooth can last as long as your other teeth. The key is to take proper care of your teeth, have routine cleanings, and visit our office as soon as you feel you have a problem with a tooth.

If you are having pain or symptoms from a tooth or teeth, check it out with us — you may or may not need a root canal treatment. Contact our office to schedule an appointment and find out. Don't wait until it's too late. And to learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatments for a root canal, read the article “I'd Rather Have A Root Canal....”


By Drake Tollefson DDS
April 11, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: oral health   root canal  

We pride ourselves on educating our patients regarding oral health and dental treatment. This is why we are providing you with these frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding root canals. Our belief is that by being informed about this important dental treatment, you will be more comfortable should you ever require a root canal.

Exactly what is root canal treatment?

A root canal treatment is an endodontic procedure (“endo” – inside: “dont” – tooth) in which the living pulp tissues are housed, including the nerves. When a severely decayed or damaged tooth begins to hurt, it is because the pulpal tissues are inflamed or infected, and the response of the nerves is varying degrees of pain — letting you know something is wrong. If the pulp is dead or dying it must be removed and the root canal of the tooth is filled and sealed to stop infection and to save the tooth.

Who typically performs them?

Endodontics is a specialty within dentistry that specifically deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of root canal issues affecting a tooth's root or nerve. While endodontists are dentists who specialize in root canal treatment, general dentists may also perform root canal treatment and are usually the dentists you will consult with when you first have tooth pain and who will refer you to an endodontist if necessary.

What are the symptoms of a root canal infection?

Root canal symptoms and the character of the pain may vary depending on the cause. For example, symptoms may be:

  • Sharp, acute pain that is difficult to pinpoint
  • Intense pain that occurs when biting down on the tooth or food
  • Lingering pain after eating either hot or cold foods
  • Dull ache and pressure
  • Tenderness accompanied by swelling in the nearby gums

Does root canal treatment hurt?

A common misconception is that a root canal treatment is painful when, in actuality, it is quite the opposite. The pain associated with a root canal occurs prior to treatment and is relieved by it — not visa versa.

If you have tooth pain, you may or may not need a root canal treatment. Contact us today (before your symptoms get worse) and schedule an appointment to find out what's causing the problem. And to learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatments for a root canal, read the article “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”


Nearly every parent and caregiver has experienced that almost instantaneous sick feeling when they see that their child has been injured, especially when it is an injury to the mouth and teeth. For some, it is just a bloody lip; however, if the accident chipped a tooth, then you may have a completely different situation on your hands. If the nerve of the tooth has not been damaged, you needn't worry too much — a composite (plastic) tooth-colored restoration that is actually bonded to the tooth is an ideal material for repairing most broken or chipped teeth. See us as soon as possible to assess the extent of injury, so that proper and appropriate action can be taken.

An additional reason why bonding with composite resin may be the ideal choice for repairing a child's chipped tooth is that it can be custom created in virtually any shade so that it perfectly matches the damaged tooth and the surrounding teeth. It is also far less expensive than a crown, an important factor to consider when repairing a primary (baby) tooth that will eventually fall out to make room for a permanent tooth. If the injury is to a permanent tooth, a composite resin still may be ideal to use as a restoration until your child or teenager has stopped growing or playing contact sports. This is because your teenager may be too young for a more permanent restoration such as a crown or porcelain veneer.

An important, proactive step you can take to be prepared for the next time your child has a dental injury is to download Dear Doctor's Field-side Pocket Guide for Dental Injuries. This handy, quick reference guide is a must have for athletes, parents, caregivers, teachers, coaches or anyone who is often in an environment where a mouth injury is likely to occur. Knowing what to do and how quickly you must respond can make the critical difference between saving and losing a tooth.