What is an Endodontist?

An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in root canal treatment.  Endodontists have advanced surgical and nonsurgical skills that make them uniquely qualified to treat routine as well as complex cases.  After completing dental school, endodontists attend a two- or three-year advanced dental school program that focuses only on endodontic science and procedures. Endodontists also attend continuing education courses after they are in practice, so they are knowledgeable about state-of-the-art research, clinical procedures, and technology.  The American Board of Endodontics provides an objective examination process to evaluate an endodontist once they have been in practice.  Less than 25% of all endodontists in the United States achieve board certification.  Dr. Beach completed his board certification in 2008 and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics.

 

 

What is endodontic treatment?
“Endo” is the Greek word for “inside” and “odont” is Greek for “tooth.” Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth.

photoTo understand endodontic treatment, it helps to know something about the anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue and creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during development.

The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots where it connects to the tissues surrounding the root. The pulp is important during a tooth’s growth and development. However, once a tooth is fully mature it can survive without the pulp, because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.

 

 

Why would I need an endodontic procedure?
Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.



photoWhat are the signs of needing endodontic treatment?
Signs to look for include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling, drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes as well as nearby bone and gingival tissues. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms.

How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?
The endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the canal, a channel inside the root, then fills and seals the space. Afterwards, you will return to your dentist, who will place a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Endodontic Procedure
Endodontic treatment can often be performed in one or two visits and involves the following steps:

  1. The endodontist examines and x-rays the tooth, then administers local anesthetic. After the tooth is numb, the endodontist places a small protective sheet called a “dental dam” over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure.

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2. The endodontist makes an opening in the crown of the tooth. Very small instruments are used to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals and to shape the space for filling.

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3. After the space is cleaned and shaped, the endodontist fills the root canals with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called “gutta-percha.” The gutta-percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close the opening. The temporary filling will be removed by your dentist before the tooth is restored.

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4. After the final visit with your endodontist, you must return to your dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.

 

 

Who performs endodontic treatment?
All dentists, including your general dentist, received some training in endodontics while in dental school. Often general dentists refer patients needing root canal treatment to endodontists.

 

 

Will I feel pain during or after the procedure?
While many patients may be in great pain before seeing an endodontist, most report that the pain is relieved by the endodontist and that they are comfortable during the procedure. For the first few days after treatment, the tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications. The endodontist will tell you how to care for your tooth at home.

 

 

I'm worried about x-rays. Should I be?

No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontic treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system called digital radiography.  It produces radiation levels close to 90 percent lower than those of already low dose conventional dental x-ray machinery. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to your referring dentist via e-mail.

 

 

What happens after treatment?

When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact his or her office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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