Are you experiencing severe tooth pain, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, darkening of the tooth, or swelling of the gums? If so, you may require root canal therapy to eliminate your symptoms. Patients generally require root canals when there is an infection or inflammation that impacts the roots of a tooth.
General dentists can and often do perform root canal treatments. However, most dentists will refer patients in need of root canal therapy to an endodontist that specializes in performing root canal treatments.
Root Canals Explained
A tooth that is badly infected or decayed cannot always be treated with fillings or antibiotics alone. Instead, more extensive work must be done to repair and save the tooth. There are many reasons why a tooth may require root canal therapy. Large fillings, chips or cracks in a tooth, repeated dental procedures on a tooth, deep decay, or trauma to the face may be to blame.
During a root canal, the pulp and nerve of the tooth are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Medication may be put into the pulp chamber to help stop any infection that may be present. Root canals sometimes require multiple visits to an endodontist. Between visits, a temporary filling is placed to protect the tooth and keep out saliva and debris.
Without treatment, the infection in the tooth may worsen, causing swelling that spreads to the face, head, or neck. Some patients may also experience bone loss around the tip of the root. It is also not uncommon for abscesses, or pus-like pockets, to develop at the end of the tooth roots as the infection continues to spread. The infection can also spread to other parts of the body, and in some cases be life-threatening.
Why See an Endodontist?
Endodontics is a specialized area of dentistry that focuses on conditions relating to the roots of the teeth. Many endodontists specialize in both conventional root canal therapy and more involved treatments, such as dental pulp surgery.
There are several reasons why your dentist may refer you to an endodontist. If you exhibit symptoms of infected tooth pulp, your general dentist may suspect that you need a root canal. They may recommend that you see an endodontist to undergo a more in-depth examination. Your dentist may also recommend seeing an endodontist if you have a cracked tooth or a failed root canal that now requires an apicoectomy.
Endodontists perform an average of 25 root canal treatments per week, compared to general dentists who perform less than two. These specialists are highly efficient in diagnosing and treating patients with dental pulp issues and are often flexible in accommodating emergency cases. Additionally, many endodontists have access to innovative technology. Technology such as digital imaging, operating microscopes, fiber optics, and ultrasonic instrumentation is used. These systems allow them to treat patients quickly and comfortably.
To become an endodontist, a person must get a minimum of a master’s degree, complete a residency program, participate in clinical practice, and acquire their state license to practice. Many endodontists choose to further their education and hone their skills by becoming board-certified endodontists with the American Board of Endodontists.
When to See an Endodontist
Not sure if you need to see an endodontist? Talk to your general dentist about the symptoms you may be experiencing. Tooth pain, especially ongoing pain after an injury, swelling around the teeth, gums, and face, sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks, and tenderness or discoloration around a tooth may signal the need for a root canal.
When you visit an endodontist, he or she will begin by reviewing your dental history and conducting a thorough exam. In most cases, diagnostic imaging and testing will be needed to identify the cause of the symptoms. Once a diagnosis has been made, your endodontist may recommend treatment and explain the benefits and risks involved.
Speak with a Endodontist Today Regarding Your Dental Care
No one should live with tooth pain. If you are experiencing a dental emergency or require root canal treatment, contact our knowledgeable team at Advanced Endodontics. We will get you on the path to a healthy smile!