Restorative Dentistry |5 min read

10 FAQs About Root Canals [VIDEO]

Root canals have a not-so-great reputation. They’re often associated with pain.

But do they really live up to the expectation?

After all, this endodontic procedure SAVES your tooth.

Isn’t that a good thing?

Get the answers to the top FAQs about root canals below!

1. What is a root canal?

A root canal is a treatment used to save a tooth that has an infection on the inside (the pulp).

Similar to a dental filling, a root canal involves:

  • Removing decay and infection from within the pulp chamber and root canals
  • Disinfecting the area
  • Filling it with a biocompatible material and sealing it off

2. Do root canals hurt?

Short answer:

No, root canals do not hurt.

The truth is:

The pain associated with root canals stems from the infection, not the procedure. In fact, getting a root canal will get you out of pain, sometimes instantaneously.

Before the treatment begins, the area surrounding your tooth will be numbed. You won’t feel anything!

3. How long does a root canal take?

A root canal takes 60 to 90 minutes on average.

Here’s what to expect:

  • X-rays are taken to determine if a root canal is your best option
  • Your dentist will numb your tooth and surrounding area
  • A protective dental dam is placed around the tooth
  • Your dentist makes a small opening in the crown of the tooth
  • Decay and infection are removed from within
  • The space left behind is disinfected
  • Your tooth is filled and sealed to prevent reinfection
  • A temporary or permanent crown is placed to restore your tooth’s appearance, strength, and functionality

Learn About Root Canals in Waldorf, MD

4. What is best, root canal or extraction?

Quick answer:

A root canal is better than an extraction.


While there are many excellent tooth replacement options, there’s no substitute for a natural tooth. Plus, there are little to no future complications following a root canal.

Whereas with a tooth extraction, if you don’t replace that missing tooth, you put yourself at risk for issues like:

  • Teeth shifting out of place
  • Trouble speaking and chewing
  • Bite and jaw alignment problems
  • Bone loss
  • Premature aging


Tooth extractions are usually more painful… This text opens a new tab to the American Association of Endodontists website… than a root canal!

So the best thing you can do is save your remaining healthy tooth structure with root canal therapy.

5. Can I wait for a root canal?

Ask any reputable dentist, and they’ll tell you:

Do not wait to get a root canal done.

The longer you put off getting a root canal, the more you’re at risk for experiencing pain, worsening symptoms, and allowing the infection to spread – potentially to other teeth or parts of your body.

6. Should I get a second opinion on a root canal?

If you were told you need a root canal and want another dentist’s opinion, then book a second opinion consultation.

The second dentist will either confirm your original diagnosis or provide you with their alternative recommendations. From there, you can make an informed decision or seek out a third opinion.

When in doubt, trust your gut.

Or better yet:

Check out this article with advice on when to seek a dentist’s second opinion.

Read: 16 Signs You Should Get a Second Opinion

7. How do I know if I need a root canal?

Sometimes, root canal symptoms are obvious. This includes:

  • Severe toothache pain
  • Heightened sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
  • Swelling and tenderness in nearby gums

Other times, there are no outwardly visible or physical signs. This may be confusing when a dentist tells you you need one. But more than likely, your x-ray will clearly indicate you have an infected tooth.

8. Can you eat after a root canal?

Yes! Once the numbing agent wears off, typically within two to three hours, you can eat again.


While you’re healing and until you get your permanent crown, it’s recommended you:

  • Stick to a soft-food diet
  • Chew on the opposite side of treatment until you’re healed
  • Eat slowly
  • Avoid really hot foods and drinks

9. Can you drive after a root canal?

Yes! Most root canals are performed with a local anesthetic to numb the tooth. This shouldn’t impair your ability to drive or return to normal activities.

However, if you receive sedation mediation, you may be unable to drive following your appointment. You will need someone to drive you home.

10. Can you smoke after a root canal?

It’s recommended you don’t smoke for at least 24 hours after receiving a root canal.


It’s recommended you stop smoking altogether. Smokers are two times more likely… This text opens a new tab to the American Association of Endodontists website… to need root canals than non-smokers. This statistic only increases with more years of smoking too!

Looking for a root canal dentist in Waldorf, MD?

Contact The Silberman Dental Group!

Dr. Paul Silberman and Dr. Daniel Barakh offer free consultations and second opinions for root canals.

Patients love our root canal therapy because we:

  • Prioritize your comfort
  • Complete the treatment in one visit
  • Offer CEREC same-day crowns to save you time
  • Customize your crown to look and feel like a natural tooth

We’ve even had patients fall asleep during the procedure because we help them feel that relaxed and comfortable.

Request an Appointment

Or you can:

Our dentists are located in Waldorf, MD and see patients from across the state, including Charlotte Hall, White Plains, La Plata, Brandywine, Accokeek, and Mechanicsville.

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