What is an endodontist?
Endodontists are dentists who specialize in saving teeth through different procedures which involve the pulp (nerve) and root of teeth. Endodontist comes from the Greek “endo” meaning inside and the word “odont” meaning tooth. All dentists are trained to treat and diagnose diseases of the pulp (nerve), however, some teeth can be especially difficult to diagnose and treat. Reason why some patients are referred to the endodontist.
An endodontist, as defined by the American Board of Endodontists, is a dental specialist in the treatment of diseases and injuries to the dental pulp, root and surrounding tissues of the teeth. Endodontists receive a “certificate in Endodontics” after additional 2-3 years of training in an accredited dental program after dental school.
Root Canal treatment
A root canal is a dental treatment done under local anesthesia to remove a damaged nerve while saving the tooth. The procedure is done under a sheet of latex called the “rubber dam” (we’ve got non-latex ones too) placed around the tooth to isolate it, hence keeping it clean and dry during treatment. The treatment consists of three or four basic steps, but the number of visits will depend on your particular case. Some treatments take 2 visits but many are just a single visit. Occasionally 3 appointments are needed. It all depends on the degree of infection/inflammation and degree of treatment difficulty.
We believe it is more important to do it the very best we can than to meet a specific time criteria.
Endodontic therapy when done properly and under ideal circumstances has a very high degree of success, up to 90%. Since all teeth do not always follow this criteria, we will discuss with you the chances of success for your specific tooth, before any endodontic procedure is done to help you make an informed decision.
With proper care, even teeth that have had root canal treatment can last a lifetime. But sometimes, a tooth that has been treated doesn’t heal properly and can become painful or diseased months or even years after treatment. If your tooth failed to heal or develops new problems, you have a second chance. An additional procedure may be able to support healing and save your tooth. If you have pain or discomfort in a previously treated tooth, talk to an endodontist about retreatment.
Why do I need another endodontic procedure?
As occasionally happens with any dental or medical procedure, a tooth may not heal as expected after initial treatment for a variety of reasons:
- Narrow or curved canals were not treated during the initial procedure.
- Complicated canal anatomy went undetected in the first procedure.
- The placement of the crown or other restoration was delayed following the endodontic treatment.
- The restoration did not prevent salivary contamination to the inside of the tooth.
In other cases, a new problem can jeopardize a tooth that was successfully treated. For example:
- New decay can expose the root canal filling material to bacteria, causing a new infection in the tooth.
- A loose, cracked or broken crown or filling can expose the tooth to new infection.
- A tooth sustains a fracture.
During retreatment, the endodontist will reopen your tooth and remove the filling materials that were placed in the root canals during the first procedure. The endodontist then carefully examines the tooth, looking for additional canals or new infection. The endodontist then removes any infection, cleans and shapes the canals, and places new filling materials. The opening is then sealed with a temporary filling. Once the tooth heals, a new crown or other restoration is placed on the tooth to protect it.
Occasionally, a nonsurgical root canal procedure alone cannot save your tooth and your endodontist will recommend surgery. Endodontic surgery can be used to locate small fractures or hidden canals that weren’t detected on x-rays or during previous treatment. Surgery may also be needed to remove calcium deposits in root canals, or to treat damaged root surfaces or the surrounding bone of the tooth. To learn more about endodontic surgery, talk to an endodontist in your area.
There are many surgical procedures that can be performed to save a tooth. The most common is called an apicoectomy, or root-end resection, which is occasionally needed when inflammation or infection persists in the bony area around the end of your tooth after a root canal procedure. In this microsurgical procedure, the endodontist opens the gum tissue near the tooth to see the underlying bone and to remove any inflamed or infected tissue. The very end of the root is also removed. A small filling may be placed to seal the end of the root canal and few stitches or sutures are placed to help the tissue heal. Over a period of months, the bone heals around the end of the root. Local anesthetics make the procedure comfortable, and most patients return to their normal activities the next day. Postsurgical discomfort is generally mild.
Traumatic Dental Injuries
Traumatic dental injuries often occur in accidents or sports-related injuries. Chipped teeth account for the majority of all dental injuries. Dislodged or knocked-out teeth are examples of less frequent, but more severe injuries. Treatment depends on the type, location and severity of each injury. Any dental injury, even if apparently mild, requires examination by a dentist or anendodontist immediately. Sometimes, neighboring teeth suffer an additional, unnoticed injury that will only be detected by a thorough dental exam. Endodontists are dentists who specialize in treating traumatic dental injuries. With their advanced skills, techniques and technologies they can often save injured teeth. If you have a cracked or injured tooth, find an endodontist near you right away!