Safety of a Root Canal Procedure

Your Lincoln Dentist talks about the safety of root canals and answering CAQs about Root Canals

A note from Lincoln Dentist, Dr. Kathryn Alderman

Are you looking for a “dentist that does root canals near me?” If you need a root canal, you may ask: “Are root canals safe for my overall health?”

A root canal procedure is not the correct option for every patient. In fact, some patients choose to proceed with biological dentistry. Choosing biological dentistry would mean that those particular patients would choose to forego a root canal, and completely remove the tooth.  Every case and every patient should be carefully evaluated. The final treatment decision should be based on the patient’s overall health, biting forces, and dental history.

In our article we’ll answer a few commonly asked questions about root canals including:

1. Are root canals dangerous?

2. How long does a root canal take?

3. Which is safer a root canal or an extraction?

You may have heard of the movie “Root Cause” and wonder where you can find it?

You may see the movie “Root Cause”  here.  While some of the facts are interesting in this movie, not all the information is correct and simply does not follow the medical facts.

An article by Lincoln endodontist Dr. Jamie Ring on “Root Cause” Theory Debunked

Which teeth are appropriate for completing a safe root canal and still maintaining your overall health?

A tooth can be injured by a newly placed dental filling, a crack, or even by being completely broken. Any of these things can lead to acute inflammation of the tooth. At this point, there is no extensive amount of harmful bacteria inside the tooth, and it is hurting because of the inflammation. Acute inflammation can often lead to a sharp, radiating toothache. The good news from your dentist in Lincoln, NE is, however, this type of tooth can be saved and preserved by means of root canal treatment, if you so choose. I believe that root canals can be a good choice for teeth with inflammation, but may not necessarily be great for those with an infection. Still curious about root canal safety? Learn more here.

What is a root canal and do I need to see an endodontist vs dentist for my root canal in Lincoln, NE?

We use the term “root canal” to describe the middle part of a tooth. This is where the nerves and blood supplies exist. If a tooth is damaged from decay, trauma, or some other issue, a dental professional may want to perform root canal therapy. During root canal therapy, your dentist in Lincoln, NE will carve out the center of the tooth into the root. He or she will remove the nerve and pulp while leaving the tooth intact.

I complete most root canals at my office. However, I will occasionally refer patients to an endodontist, who are root canal specialists. Endodontists are helpful, especially for severe cases. Many patients ask, “what is the difference between an endodontist vs dentist in Lincoln?” Endodontists are trained for advanced therapy beyond basic root canals. If your case is extremely complicated, you may be referred to an endodontist. I have, however, successfully treated hundreds of teeth with root canal therapy in Lincoln, NE over the years. If you’d like a professional opinion about having a root canal at our office or would like an opinion about seeing an endodontist, contact me, your dentist in Lincoln, NE. You can also call my office at 402-413-7000, or send an email directly to me at

What about an abscessed or infected tooth for root canal treatment? Learn About Endodontics in Lincoln, NE.

If a patient has had a long-standing tooth infection, leading to the loss of bone around it, or having an obvious amount of pus, it would be safe to say that a root canal would be a poor treatment option for saving an abscessed tooth. Performing a root canal on an abscessed tooth will ultimately lead to a chronic low-grade infection within a patient’s mouth. Many patients have only a certain amount of tolerance to poor dental work and therefore, an associated low-grade infection is considered common. For patients with an auto-immune disorder, the immune system struggles daily and a compromised root canal can put additional and unnecessary strain on an already compromised immune system.

What about an abscessed or infected tooth for root canal treatment? Can it be saved with a root canal or should I get an implant?

Again, if a patient has a long-standing tooth infection, it will eventually lead to bone loss and/or a dental abscess. In these cases, a root canal is a poor treatment option.

I need to redo a root canal. Do I need to go to an endodontist vs dentist, or should I replace the tooth with an implant?

Your gentle, family dentist in Lincoln, NE says: the answer here is pretty simple. It’s usually better to replace the tooth with a biocompatible dental implant than to redo an infected root canal.  Of course, you can always schedule a consultation with your family dentist or an endodontist in your area.

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BPA free dental fillings by biological dentist in Lincoln NE
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What is the cost of a root canal without dental insurance in Lincoln, NE?

The cost of a root canal can vary based on whether or not you have dental insurance.

If you are a candidate for safe root canal treatment, please read the CAQ’s about root canals.

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:

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?

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

Your Lincoln Dentist answering CAQs on the safety of root canals.

The key to an effective root canal is providing an exceptional experience for each patient. At our office, we use state-of-the-art technology, allowing root canal therapy to be accurate, safe, and comfortable.

Until root canals came along, the only way to treat an infected tooth was to remove it.  Root canals traditionally have a bad name, and many people talk to their friends or watch YouTube videos that cause them to lose sleep worrying about the procedure.

In reality, root canals are very common. Root canals are useful when a tooth isn’t able to recover naturally from trauma. Dental trauma can include deep cavities, cracks, broken fillings, newly-placed fillings, and crowns.

But that might still leave you wondering:

Are root canals dangerous?
Just as with any other type of medical procedure a root canal does have associated risks. Be sure to visit with your dentist in Lincoln, NE to find out if a root canal is right for you.

If I choose endodontic therapy, how long does a root canal take?
In general, a root canal appointment can take up to one hour. Do know, however, that depending upon the level of difficulty, your root canal could take longer. The amount of time needed to complete a root canal is determined by the number of root canals that you need and the type of tooth being treated.

Which is safer a root canal or an extraction?
In terms of overall success rate, a root canal comes in first. Root canals have a better success rate than extractions because there are virtually very few complications associated with a root canal. Root canals are done by an endodontist or dentist to clean out infection, ultimately saving the tooth.

The Benefits of Root Canal Therapy…

When you’re having serious discomfort, the most obvious benefit is to find relief. However, with root canal therapy, that isn’t the only benefit.

Root canal treatment stops infection and decay in its tracks. Instead of allowing your cavity to spread freely, a root canal gives us the chance to halt the spread of infectious bacteria. Unlike tooth extraction, root canals also preserve your tooth, giving you full functionality. When you have a tooth removed, it causes bone loss and changes the way you chew and speak. On the other hand, root canals prevent tooth and bone loss, giving you the freedom to eat and speak normally, and most importantly, stop your mouth from hurting. While root canal therapy offers many benefits, it may not be for everyone.

Dr. Kathryn Alderman is also a biological dentist in Lincoln, NE, and chooses to offer both approaches to dentistry to be able to cater to more patients. Always keep in mind that a root canal may not be for everyone, and your treatment decision will be compassionately respected.

Do you have a dental emergency and think you may need a root canal? Is an endodontist vs dentist better?

root canal inside preserve family dentistry

Whether you have a sharp toothache or infection during the week, after hours, or on the weekend, we’re here to help. For severe discomfort after hours, call our emergency line at 402-840-9783During office hours, you’re always welcome to call us at 402-413-7000. The first place is to see your family dentist in Lincoln, NE for your emergency dental care. After your initial evaluation, it can be recommended on seeing your family dentist or endodontist treat the toothache.

Frequently Asked Questions About Root Canal Therapy

Many of our patients have questions about root canals. For that reason, I’ve tried to answer many of them on this page. Below are several of our most frequently asked questions about root canals.

Image of a tooth with infection. This could be fixed by an endodontist vs dentist in Lincoln, NE.
The prognosis of a root canal depends whether a tooth is inflamed or infected prior to the treatment.
I have an auto-immune condition. Are root canals safe for me? Should I remove my tooth or have a root canal?
The roots of teeth have both main canals and thousands of microscopic side channels. When a patient gets a toothache or an infection, I’ll evaluate whether or not a tooth is undergoing an inflammatory process or if it’s infected. If it’s at the inflammation stage, the patient can expect a good prognosis. However, if a tooth is infected, your dentist in Lincoln, NE may not be able to clean out all of the infection. This has to do with the microscopic channels of the root system. Even if a dentist tries, it may be impossible to remove all of the tissue and debris from the inside of the infected tooth. Unfortunately, antibiotics may not help either, due to the emergent bacteria becoming encapsulated and protected inside these channels. Incidentally, this trapped bacteria may lead to patients developing a low-grade infection. Patients with strong immune systems can usually handle low-grade infections. If a root canal fails, strong immune systems can typically handle it. On the other hand, for those with a compromised immune system, a root canal may cause an additional and unnecessary burden on the immune system. Taking each patient’s medical status into consideration, I believe traditional root canal therapy can remain successful.
How do I know if I need a root canal, and how do I find a root canal dentist near me in Lincoln, NE who accepts my insurance?
Most patients don’t realize it, but cavities don’t hurt. However, when cavities get bigger and reach the pulp space of a tooth, the tooth can become sensitive to cold and hot. At this point, the cavity will create a sharp toothache and cause severe dental discomfort. Great options are either a root canal or taking the tooth out. You can contact any of our five locations in Lincoln, NE if you would like to make an appointment for root canal therapy.
Do root canals hurt?
I work very hard to make every root canal experience positive. Root canals usually should not hurt and should be comfortable.
Can I have a root canal while pregnant?
Yes! It’s important to remove the bacteria of an infected tooth, even during pregnancy. If you’re an expectant mother, you may have a tough time being in the dental chair for an extended period of time. Because of this, I work extra hard to make the root canal experience comfortable for any mother-to-be. I will ensure you are comfortable and minimize time spent in the chair. In the past, I’ve had expectant mothers who needed to sit up during their root canal procedures. If you’re pregnant and are concerned you may need a root canal, consider me, your Lincoln root canal dentist.
Can I have a root canal while breastfeeding?
It is safe to have a root canal while breastfeeding. After root canal therapy, you can expect some sensitivity. If you do, we typically recommend taking Ibuprofen. However, Ibuprofen can affect your milk supply. Instead, Tylenol is the recommended option during breastfeeding.
What could cause tooth discomfort when biting down?
Lincoln root canal dentist progression Illustration If you experience sharp tooth discomfort when biting down, there could be a number of issues. It may be caused by a broken filling, a crack in your tooth, or by extensive decay. You may also have damaged the pulp tissue inside of the tooth. In that case, you may need to have root canal therapy to stop dental discomfort and a sharp toothache.
What causes tooth sensitivity to hot and cold or nerve discomfort in teeth?
Nerve discomfort or tooth sensitivity is normal when teeth are exposed to cold and hot temperatures. This nerve discomfort is usually short-lived. It’s caused by the stimulation of cells within the layers of the tooth. Nerve discomfort can also happen if there are cracks in the tooth’s outermost layer, the enamel. It’s important to prevent cracks, as many of them can lead to extreme sensitivity to hot and cold, or even the air.
How long does discomfort after root canal therapy last?
You may experience mild jaw discomfort immediately following a root canal. You can control this mild discomfort with over-the-counter medications such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol. If it lasts longer than a few days, you may need to revisit your dentist in Lincoln, NE.
How much does a root canal cost in Lincoln, NE?
The cost of a root canal can vary depending upon many factors.  At our office, we accept almost every major dental insurance, which typically covers 50%-80% of the cost of a root canal. Usually, root canals cost between $400 and $850, with dental insurance. After insurance, the cost can often be reduced to as little as $150.
Where can I find root dentist near me for children in Lincoln, NE?
We call root canal treatment in younger children pulpectomy treatment. Children’s back teeth are necessary for chewing and maintaining space for future permanent teeth. Fortunately, I do perform root canal treatment for children at times! I’ll always work hard to help your child comfortable and relaxed during this procedure.
Are root canals safe for overall health?
Yes. A root canal seeks to remove the infected nerve of a tooth and fill the space with a specific type of dental filling. Often, all of the bacteria cannot be removed, and the treated tooth becomes a chronic source of bacteria. After the nerve and blood supply is removed from the tooth, it virtually becomes dead space. If it isn’t all removed, the bacteria responsible for the decay in the first place can multiply in this “dead” space. This causes a chronic source of low-grade chronic infection in the patient’s mouth. An excellent solution is to find a dentist that understands the importance of removing ALL of the bacteria, and one who carefully chooses eligible teeth for root canals.
What are the symptoms of a tooth abscess or dental infection?
If you have an infected tooth, it can create an abscess, putting your overall health at risk. The following are common symptoms of a dental abscess:

  • Image of a lday contemplating endodontist vs dentis for needed tooth treatment.Feeling sick and having flu-like symptoms.
  • A sharp toothache or extreme discomfort while biting down.
  • Bad taste in the mouth that remains, even after brushing or flossing.
  • Pus in or around the tooth.

Dental abscesses are pretty serious. If you think you may have one, you should see your Lincoln root canal dentist today. You can also learn more about dental abscesses here.

How do you treat a root canal infection?
We recommend a root canal when there are signs of decay, injury, or repeated dental work. These issues often cause the nerve to become infected. The procedure for a root canal infection starts with the dentist drilling a small hole to gain access to the root chambers of the tooth. After entering the nerve space, the infection is cleaned out using small instruments. Root canals are just like having a cavity fixed, but the work occurs much deeper inside the tooth.
Is it normal to have discomfort or sensitivity after root canal therapy?
Yes, you can expect some discomfort or slight sensitivity after root canal therapy. After a root canal, be sure not to chew or bite on the treated tooth until your dentist in Lincoln, NE has fully completed the treatment.
Will I need to take time off work after root canal procedure??
You can expect to be numb, and to have mild jaw soreness after root canal therapy. If your job requires talking to people, your mouth may be numb for a few hours and you may want to take the day off. However, you can usually go back to work and continue with your regular activities right after root canal therapy. Most patients return to work soon after root canal therapy.
I have a returning dental abscess after a recent root canal, what should be done?
Although it’s uncommon, a dental abscess can form after a recent root canal. One possibility is that there’s an abnormal number of canals that weren’t seen radiographically or clinically in the tooth. When this happens, some canals are often left unclean, resulting in a recurring infection. A faulty restoration is another possible cause. If a restoration was placed incorrectly on the tooth or there was an undetected crack, that would allow bacteria to enter the tooth and cause a returning dental abscess. We recommend taking antibiotics to stop the spread of the infection. Along with this, you’ll need to see your dentist near me in Lincoln, NE who can remove the infected tooth.
Can a tooth infection make me sick?
Yes. With an infection, there’s always a chance of getting sick. Someone with infection may experience fever and/or swelling of the neck glands and jaw. If the infection goes untreated, it will only spread and get worse. If it does, it may affect your overall well-being, making you sick.

Toothache FAQs

Can I get a toothache from a sinus infection?
Image of a patient experiencing discomfort in Lincoln, NE. It is also possible for a sinus infection to cause a toothache. This usually happens on upper molars during the active sinus infection. You can learn more about these rare cases from our partners here.
Why do toothaches hurt more at night?
At night, toothaches often feel more intense because blood pressure to a person’s head increases when lying down. This correlates with increased pressure to the tooth’s blood supply, causing an increase in discomfort.
What is a good home remedy for relieving a sharp, intense toothache?
At times, you may experience a sharp toothache related to a sinus infection, ear infection, extra sensitive teeth, or acute TMJ symptoms. In these cases, the tooth isn’t usually isn’t damaged. Because of this, certain home remedies as follows can help:

  • Applying a little pressure against the area with something cold.
  • Using salt water rinses and peppermint tea.
  • Taking Ibuprofen or Tylenol for a sharp toothache.

If you’re experiencing a sharp toothache due to ongoing acute inflammation, dental decay, or a cracked tooth, then home remedies are short-term solutions. They can numb a sharp toothache for a while but they will not be permanent. To get rid of a sharp toothache permanently, call our office for an evaluation. This is an excellent way to learn about the cause of your intense toothache.

How can you stop a toothache immediately? 

To stop a toothache immediately, take an anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen. This can treat the discomfort quickly, relieving pressure where at the nerve of the tooth. Another strategy is alternating cold and hot applications. Alternate a bag of frozen peas with a hot water bottle on the affected spot until you feel relief. Most of the time, those things can help stop a toothache. Unfortunately, however, these only last for a short time. You’ll need to see a dentist near me in Lincoln, NE and treat the cause of the toothache to permanently relieve any symptoms. You can always call your dentist to see if an endodontist vs dentist is recommended. Your dentist will always know what solution is right for you, so be sure to include them in your treatment plan.

How long does a toothache last? Will a toothache go away on its own or do I have to see a dentist for my toothache?
Some toothaches are short-lived and normal for people with extra sensitive teeth. However, if you have to take medication for a more than a day, your tooth may be undergoing some sort of inflammation or even infection. If that’s the case, the toothache will require attention from a dentist in Lincoln, NE.
I have a sharp toothache, should I have a root canal or is it better to remove it and place an implant?
Sometimes a tooth can be injured from a crack, a break, or even a recently placed filling. Any of these things can lead to acute inflammation of the tooth. If one of these is the case, there isn’t an extensive amount of harmful bacteria inside the tooth. At this point, the tooth is only hurting from acute inflammation. Inflammation is often the cause of a sharp, radiating toothache. The good news is that the dentist can usually save and preserve this type of tooth with root canal treatment. Unless the decay is extensive, we shouldn’t need to extract the tooth. Unless, of course, you prefer the approach a biological dentist like myself offers. Be sure to explore all options, including an endodontist vs dentist vs oral surgeon.
Why does it hurt to touch my tooth? Should I see a Lincoln root canal dentist near me?
If your tooth is extremely sensitive to biting or touching, you may have a dental abscess. A dental abscess is a result of a growth of pathogenic (harmful) bacteria inside the tooth’s pulp chamber. This bacteria is what causes an abscess. As it continues to multiply, it also creates pressure inside the tooth leading to a sharp toothache. At times, an abscess causes the infection to drain from the tip of the tooth, causing sharp discomfort while biting down or touching your tooth. If this is what you’re experiencing, you should call Lincoln root canal dentist, Dr. Kathryn Alderman.
Is it normal for a tooth with a root canal and a crown to hurt? Should I have discomfort in a tooth with a root canal therapy years later?
No. You shouldn’t have a toothache or swelling years after the root canal therapy. If you do, you should see our Lincoln emergency dentist immediately to evaluate the toothache.
I have an ear infection that causes a sharp toothache? Can my ear infection lead to a tooth abscess?
It is possible for an ear infection to lead to a tooth infection. It’s very unlikely, however, it is possible. Have your Lincoln root canal dentist take a look to see what’s causing an abscess.
What should I do if my child has a toothache? Can children have a root canal therapy?
Image of a happy child in Lincoln, NE.If your child has a toothache, the first course of action is to assess the situation. If the tooth is visibly damaged in any way, call our emergency line right away. You can also help your child manage discomfort by doing a couple of things:

  • Help your child rinse with warm saltwater.
  • Compress the area with something cold.
  • Administer appropriate medications.

Why do I have sharp discomfort with a tooth under my dental bridge?
It’s very uncommon to have sharp dental discomfort under a bridge. If you have a discomfort under a dental bridge, please see our emergency dentist in Lincoln, NE for an evaluation. In the meantime, take Ibuprofen or Tylenol to minimize your toothache.

Looking for a second opinion about root canal therapy?

If you’d like a second opinion on your recent dental treatment or diagnosis, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can email me your x-rays and questions at, or request an appointment online. I’d be happy to take a look and give you my professional opinion.

If you’re seeking a cost estimate, please text or call (402) 413-7141. We’re here to offer a pleasant, affordable, and hassle-free experience, whether you’re getting a root canal or just a second opinion.

You can also schedule an appointment at Preserve Family Dentistry. In addition, you can also schedule at any other Nebraska Family Dentistry locations using the form below. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to meeting you!

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