Gentle Root Canal for you

Root Canal Safety and Treatment

When the nerve inside of a tooth becomes infected with bacteria, sometimes it is possible to save the tooth by performing root canal therapy. This is done by removing the nerve tissue and cleaning the inside of the nerve space. If the root is cracked or any bacteria is left behind during this process, the tooth can become a source of chronic infection in the body. The main reason for safety concerns when it comes to root canal therapy is that all of the bacteria is removed for a successful treatment outcome. It is possible to remove almost all of the bacteria, but impossible to completely sterilize the tooth. Modern methods of root canal therapy are quite effective and allow teeth to be saved for several years. It is important for patients to know that root canal therapy is the last effort to save a tooth with a large cavity or nerve inflammation. If a root canal is not possible, or a root canal fails, the next alternative is to remove the infected tooth and replace it with a dental implant.

happy young professional smiling after Root Canal

What is the solution for root canal safety?

It is important to find a qualified dentist who is skilled at performing root canals and understands the importance of effective removal of bacteria to avoid negative treatment outcomes. It is important that your dentist carefully examines the tooth to be sure it is eligible for root canal therapy.

Which teeth are candidates for a root canal?

Teeth without cracks, teeth with acute pulpal inflammation or teeth that do not have a significant amount of bacterial infection are often good candidates for root canal therapy. In the majority of cases, these teeth can be treated.

dr burbach with patient explaining root canal Root Canal

What about abscessed or infected teeth?

When a tooth has been infected for a long time, it can develop an abscess. Treating these teeth with root canals usually does not give the patient a good long-term solution because when the infection is more extensive, it is nearly impossible to remove all of the bacteria. When bacteria is left behind, it results in a chronic low-grade infection that destroys the bone.

Patients who are otherwise healthy may have strong enough immune systems to tolerate this type of low-grade infection, but patients who are dealing with autoimmune disorders or have other inflammatory medical conditions may struggle to manage their health as a result of this infection. Even in healthy patients, infected teeth can add stress to the immune system and contribute to other health problems.

What are my options if a root canal will not work?

If a tooth does not have a good prognosis for root canal therapy, it is a great idea to remove the tooth and replace it with a dental implant. When teeth are removed, it is important to consider replacing them due to the negative consequences of having missing teeth. Over time, adjacent teeth will shift into the missing space. This can cause problems with chewing, gum disease, cavities and adds stress to the adjacent teeth. It is possible to replace missing teeth with dental implants or dental bridges.

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Dental Implants

Dental implants are a great permanent solution for replacing missing teeth that can last a patient’s lifetime.

Dental Bridge

Bridges can be used to replace one or more missing teeth. Bridges can offer patients a solution that will last several years.


If you’re concerned about your teeth or have any questions about the root canal safety and its process, feel free to make an appointment online or give us a call.

You can also email me directly at nebraskafamilydentistry@gmail.com

– Dr. Kathryn Alderman


Endodontists explain step by step process of getting a root canal:

American Endodontists talk about the common myths about root canals:

Common Failures of Root Canals:

Influence of microbiology on endodontic failure. Literature review:

Lincoln endodontist talking about Root Cause Movie:

The American Academy of Endodontists answers this question regarding the safety of root canals for overall health:

Myths about root canals. Get answers from the American Academy of Endodontists answers:

In this video an Endodontist will answer the question: Are root canals safe for your health?

happy male patient on Root Canal nsd

Commonly Asked Questions about Root Canals

Should I see an endodontist or a regular dentist for my root canal in Lincoln, NE?

General dentists are family providers who are able to perform a variety of dental procedures, including root canals. Endodontists are professionals who have additional training beyond basic root canal therapy and are able to perform other more in-depth surgeries within their practice. Each general dentist is different and some prefer not to do root canals in their practice while others do them routinely. If your general dentist is skilled and confident about performing root canals and properly selects teeth for root canal treatment, you would be in great hands for a root canal therapy with your general dentist. General dentists may refer more complex cases to endodontists if they feel that the case requires additional knowledge. The question as to whether you should see an endodontist vs general dentist really depends on how complex the case is and if your general dentist does root canals in their practice.

How do I find an endodontist that takes my insurance in Lincoln, NE?  

When trying to find out if an endodontist vs general dentist accepts your insurance, you can search on your insurance company’s webpage for a list of providers who accept your dental insurance. Finding a provider who accepts your insurance can help you save money.

My tooth hurts after a root canal is it normal? 

After a root canal has been performed, some patients may feel sore for a day or two. Alternating doses of ibuprofen and Tylenol help to reduce normal post-operative inflammation. Usually, after the first 24-48  hours, patients should feel much better than they did prior to having the root canal. If you are experiencing severe discomfort or swelling after a root canal, you should call your endodontist or general dentist immediately. You can call your general dentist for an emergency appointment if you are experiencing these symptoms regardless of whether an endodontist vs general dentist performed your root canal.

smiling happy young woman after Root Canal lincoln ne

I have soreness after a root canal and how long should it last?

It is normal to have some mild aching or tenderness for the first day or two after your root canal, but if you had a severe toothache before the root canal, you will notice an immediate improvement in your symptoms after the root canal. If you feel that your symptoms are worse than they were before the root canal or have noticed swelling of your face, call your dentist for an emergency appointment. If you are not sure of whether you should call an endodontist vs general dentist, it is most likely that your general dentist can see you sooner to evaluate for any infection or complications.

What is the most commonly recommended medication for a toothache and relief of discomfort after a root canal?

An excellent way to control the inflammation after a root canal is to alternate doses of ibuprofen and Tylenol. Studies show that this combination is more effective than any form of narcotics. It is likely that your toothache symptoms will improve significantly after your root canal is done.

Can you still get a toothache after a root canal years later?  

It is not normal to have a toothache or swelling years after a root canal. If you do experience these symptoms, you should see an emergency dentist examine your tooth. If you are wondering whether you should call an endodontist vs a general dentist for this problem, you should call a general dentist who handles dental emergencies.

smiling young female happy after Root Canal appointment

Is it normal to have a sharp toothache months after a root canal?

If your root canal was successful, you should not have any discomfort on the tooth months later. If you experience symptoms of discomfort or swelling months after a root canal, you should call your emergency dentist. It does not matter if you had a root canal with an endodontist vs general dentist, the pain years a root canal therapy is not normal and it is likely that your root canal treated tooth needs attention.

Is it better to have a root canal or extraction?

In some cases, abscessed teeth can be treated with root canals. An abscess forms when a cavity has gotten inside the nerve of the tooth. During a root canal, an endodontist or general dentist removes the infected nerve, the inside of the root is cleaned thoroughly and is filled with a particular dental material. Afterward, a crown is seated on top to protect the tooth. If the tooth has a large abscess that has spread around the roots of the tooth, it might be good to remove the tooth and replace it with an implant. This is because when a tooth has a large infection, it is impossible to completely eliminate the bacteria from the infection with a root canal, giving the tooth a poor long-term prognosis. Your emergency dentist can help you decide whether you should see an endodontist vs general dentist for a root canal.

What is the cost of a root canal vs extraction in Lincoln, NE?

Generally, the cost of a root canal and crown is higher than an extraction but lower than replacing a tooth. Our office accepts most insurance plans and our prices are very competitive with other dentists in the Lincoln, NE area.  Usually, dental insurance covers 50 – 80% of the cost of root canal treatment. The cost of a root canal to patients is even lower if patients have dental insurance.

smiling happy hip female after Root Canal appointment

Can I go back to work after a root canal?

Patients can return to work the same day after having a root canal. Patients are usually very numb for this procedure, so they should decide whether or not they would like a day off due to having difficulty speaking clearly.

What to do for relief of discomfort after a root canal?

You can alternate doses of ibuprofen and Tylenol to manage post-operative discomfort. This is the most effective way to relieve discomfort as it helps to reduce inflammation.

How long do a root canal and crown procedure take?

Depending on the condition of the nerve and tooth, an appointment for a root canal and crown can take 90 minutes to 2 hours. This procedure may require two appointments.

beautiful smiling woman after Root Canal treatment

Help relieve discomfort before you have an appointment for a root canal procedure?

Patients who are experiencing a severe toothache or any swelling can take a combination of ibuprofen and Tylenol to manage the inflammation. If you are experiencing a fair amount of discomfort your general dentist will see you prior to the root canal appointment and will examine your tooth. Sometimes they will prescribe antibiotics to help control the infection which will help with any discomfort until the root canal appointment. During the appointment, you will be numbed with a local anesthetic to help minimize the amount of any sensitivity during the procedure. Afterward, you can continue to take over-the-counter medications to help control inflammation.

Check out the “Root Canal vs. Extraction” video

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