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Frequently Asked Questions

Who performs endodontic treatment?
All dentists, including your general dentist, receive basic training in endodontic treatment in dental school. General dentists often refer patients needing endodontic treatment to endodontists.

Will it hurt?
This is our #1 asked question, and the answer is, we try as hard as we can to make your root canal as painless as possible. Of course, there are no guarantees, but we like the shots not to hurt, followed by the root canal procedure also not hurting. We will never tell you to “hold on, not much longer...” If it hurts, it hurts. We will always stop to make you more comfortable. That’s why we are constantly asking how you are doing.

My dentist says I need a root canal. My friend went to you. Does my dentist have to refer me to you?
Your dentist does not have to refer you to us. We will send your follow up paperwork to your dentist at the conclusion of the appointment. There are several different Endodontic practices. Your dentist might refer to another practice because of geographic proximity, but does not really care where you go, as long as your tooth is treated. We are always happy to see patients whose friends refer them to us.

How long does a root canal take?
Most of our patients can expect to be in and out of our office in about an hour and a half. Of course, some teeth and some procedures take longer than others, but if there is a significant difference in the length of time needed, you will probably already have been alerted to that fact.

What is the difference between a root canal appointment and a consultation appointment?
Each root canal appointment contains a consultation. Dr. Bills will always personally confirm which tooth is involved. Sometimes, the symptoms are unclear as to which tooth is involved. Prior to initiating treatment, a current xray will be taken using our digital xray. Then, Dr. Bills will perform various diagnostic tests, which can include percussion, ice test, and bite tests. Only once the correct tooth is found will root canal treatment be initiated. The root canal appointment takes about an hour and a half.

For a consultation, the diagnostic tests are done, but then a separate root canal appointment will need to be made. A consultation appointment takes abour 15 minutes.

What happens if I don’t need a root canal and I have a root canal appointment?
Following diagnosis, if it is determined that root canal therapy is not needed, then we part on amicable terms, with reassurance from our office that we are available, should you need to see us in the future. We will never initiate root canal therapy without thorough discussion of your situation, and receiving your permission to proceed with root canal therapy. Under no circumstances will we ever proceed with root canal therapy without your express permission.

I have a root canal appointment, but all I want is a consultation.
We hope that this doesn’t happen, because this disappoints patients who would like to get in earlier for their root canal, and who could have used this appointment. However, if this is the case, we will cheerfully do a consultation appointment, and will either reschedule you for a root canal in the future, or decide, with your input, that we will not be doing a root canal.

Do I need someone to drive me?
You can drive yourself to and from your root canal appointment, unless you have taken oral sedation prior to your appointment.

When can I resume chewing on my tooth?
If you have a permanent filling, you can chew on it right away, as long as you are not numb in the area so you don't bite yourself. If you have a temporary filling, please wait 4 hours. You and Dr. Bills will have already discussed which one you have!

How long should I wait before seeing my general dentist?
If you need a permanent filling or a crown, we would like you to go to your dentist as soon as possible, but in no case in more than 2 months. However, if Dr. Bills has placed a permanent restoration, then you will not need to see your general dentist until your next scheduled appointment.

Do I need to take the Medication prescribed by Dr. Bills?
Antibiotics, yes. Pain medicine, we hope that you will not need; but we want you to have it in case you do.

What if I experience pain after my root canal?
Most patients experience little or no pain from root canal therapy. However, if you do experience pain, this is not abnormal. Take 1 or 2 tablets of your prescription pain medication every 4 hours (do not take on an empty stomach.) If your pain returns prior to the next appointed dose of your pain medication, you may take an over the counter analgesic pain medication (ex: Advil or Tylenol) 2 hours following a dose of your prescribed pain medication (see below.) Studies have shown that prescribed pain medication alternated with an over the counter analgesic every two hours alleviates your pain more effectively than only prescribed pain medication every four hours. Rinsing with warm salt water is also effective in relieving pain. Soreness and puffiness around the gum are normal, and does not mean you have an infection. It is usually a reaction to your injections and can be relieved by warm salt water rinses several times a day. Pain to bite for a few days is not uncommon.

RX: Tylenol #3 – 2 Advil 2 hr. after pain medication
RX: Vicoprofen – 2 ex-strength Tylenol 2 hr. after pain medication

Dr. Bills says I grind my teeth. Where can I purchase a biteguard?
Your general dentist will be able to fabricate a biteguard made especially for you. If your tooth needs a crown, wait until after the crown is permanently placed before having a biteguard made.

Will my insurance be filed in a timely manner?
Your insurance is filed electronically as soon as your root canal appointment is over. If you have paid in full, then your insurance check should come to you directly. If you paid your co-pay, then the check should come to our office. If there is a remaining balance, we will send you a bill. Remember, all accounts are due within 90 days of the initiation of root canal treatment.

How can I reach Dr. Bills after hours?
Her cell number is 919-389-6007, and the office # is 919-467-8227. You can leave a message at either number and we will call you back.
An answering machine, left on 24 hours a day, is checked periodically during off hours.

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875 Walnut St.. Suite 200     |    Cary, North Carolina 27511     |    Office: 919-467-8227
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