The comedian’s punch line, “I’d rather have a root canal” gives endodontics and endodontists a bad rap, implying that this common procedure is both painful and traumatic. Actually, what a root canal does is alleviate pain. Also, with modern painless dental care, most patients say that they felt very little pain while the affected tooth was being repaired.
What Are Endodontists and What Do We do?
The word endodontist comes from the Greek “endo” meaning inside, coupled with “odont- “meaning tooth. So, an endodontist specializes in treatment of the inner part of a tooth.
Endodontists are dental school graduates who have received about three years additional residency to learn their specialty. All endodontists are dentists, but, according to the American Association of Endodontists, less than three percent of dentists are endodontists.
Endodontists work on the tooth’s inner area and at the root. They perform root canals. A root canal is a procedure which refers to the inner part of the tooth, located beneath the white enamel and hard layer. At the core is the pulp, which houses the tooth’s blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. During a root canal, this area is cleaned and treated to prevent further decay and damage.
What is Root Canal Treatment, And How Do You Know You Need Our Help?
The term “root canal” also refers both to treatment of a problem in the tooth’s surrounding and inner structures. The treatment becomes necessary when the tooth’s pulp becomes infected or inflamed. Treatment can be both non-surgical or require endodontic surgery at the base of the tooth.
Causes of Pulp Inflammation or Infection Can Result From:
- Deep decay
- Repeated dental procedures on the tooth
- A crack or chip in the tooth
- An injury to the tooth
Left untreated, pulp inflammation or infection can lead to severe pain or a periapical abscess. A painful periapical abscess can lead to fever, swelling in the face or teeth, and other symptoms indicating that the infection has spread deeper into the jaw, surrounding tissue, or other areas of the body.
You Are A Good Candidate For A Root Canal if You Experience the Following Symptoms:
- Tender or swollen gums
- Extreme pain while biting or chewing
- Pain or sensitivity to hot and cold that lingers after the source has been removed
- Deep tooth decay or darkening gums
- Pimples on the gum surfaces
How Do We Conduct Root Canal Procedures at Advanced Endodontics?
Depending on the patient’s diagnosis, endodontics at Advanced Endodontics have the following three options in treatment:
1. Non-surgical root canal therapy: Similar to an ordinary dental filling procedure, and usually followed by other restorative dentistry.
2. Non-surgical root canal retreatment: Treats new or recurring problems in previously treated teeth. The endodontist removes old crowns and fillings and re-cleans, re-fills, and re-seals the root canal. If the blockage is extreme or the canal is too narrow, the next step could be endodontic surgery.
3. Apicoectomy (endodontic surgery): When nonsurgical procedures are not sufficient to save the tooth, endodontic surgery may be needed. The endodontist opens the patient’s gum tissue and exposes the underlying bone to remove inflamed tissue along with the end of the root. The endodontist then places a small filling and stitches to help the tissue heal.
Four Other Conditions Your Endodontist Treats:
1. Internal Resorption: Rarely occurring, but usually after trauma, this condition can destroy a tooth from the inside out. The endodontist saves the affected tooth through drilling and cleaning out the inside of the tooth.
2. External Resorption: Also rare and typically caused by dental trauma, this condition can destroy the tooth by eating away at the root. The endodontist uses the same treatment as for internal resorption.
3. Apexogenesis: Used in pediatric dentistry to treat children with improperly developing roots. The endodontist uses calcium hydroxide to generate healthy bone tissue.
4. Apexification: This is another pediatric treatment to treat incompletely formed roots or dead tooth pulp. As in apexogenesis, the endodontist uses calcium hydroxide to treat this condition.
Did You Know…?
Endodontists perform more than 15 million root canals every year. Only about five percent of root canals fail, and with proper crowns to add extra durability and strength to a tooth, a root canal can preserve a tooth for life.
Want more information? You can make an appointment or schedule a consultation with one of our experts at Advanced Endodontics by calling us at 352.404.5550.