An Endodontist is a dentist who has completed two additional years of training in this field and practices endodontics exclusively. This vast experience enables an Endodontist to handle both the unusual and the routine case with ease and comfort for the patient.
Your general dentist has asked us to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of your endodontic condition.
What is endodontic treatment?
Endodontics is a branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association involving treatment of the pulp (root canal) and surrounding tissues of the tooth. When you look at your tooth in the mirror, what you see is the crown. The rest of the tooth, the portion hidden beneath the gum line, is called the root. Though the outer portion of the root is a hard tissue called dentin, the inside channel or “root canal” contains a pulp of soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems, can severely damage the pulp. When that happens, an endodontic specialist removes the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform normally.
What are the alternatives to endodontic treatment?
When the pulp of a tooth is damaged, the only alternative to endodontic treatment is extraction of the tooth. To restore chewing function and to prevent adjacent teeth from shifting, the extracted tooth must be replaced with an implant or bridge. This requires surgery or dental procedures on adjacent healthy teeth and can be far more costly and time consuming than endodontic treatment and restoration of the natural tooth.
No matter how effective modern tooth replacements are and they can be very effective nothing is as good as a natural tooth.
Why would I need Root Canal Therapy
Endodontic treatment is necessary when pulp 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, a blow 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.
Signs of pulp damage include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth and swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums. Sometimes, there are no symptoms.
The Endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the tooth, then fills and seals the space. Afterwards, you will return to your dentist, who will place a crown or another restoration on the tooth, then fills and seals the space. Afterwards, you will return to your dentist, who will place a crown or another restoration on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. After the restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth in the oral cavity.
Can my tooth be saved?
If the tooth’s bone and gum tissue are sound and our treatment objectives are met, Yes!
Will it hurt?
While the condition may hurt, the treatment will not. With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report that they are comfortable during the procedure. Root canal treatment usually involves no more discomfort than a routine filling appointment.
How many visits are required?
It usually requires one appointment 90% of the time. Two visits are necessary on certain teeth.
How long will my root canal tooth last?
Generally as long as any other tooth in your mouth with proper brushing, flossing, and maintenence.
Why not extract the tooth?
The cost of extraction is great, both financially and biologically.
Financially, extraction and replacement with a bridge (false tooth) or an implant generally costs more than root canal treatment and restoration.
Biologically, extraction without replacement is destructive to the bone and surrounding tissue.
What new technologies are being used?
In addition to digital radiography, we utilize special operating microscopes. Magnification and fiber optic illumination are helpful in aiding the doctor to see tiny details inside your tooth. Also, a tiny video camera on the operating microscope can record images of your tooth to further document the doctor’s findings.
How much will the procedure cost?
The fee for root canal treatment is based on the type of tooth, number of canals, and difficulty of the case. The range of fees for various procedures is available from our office upon request prior to your appointment. However, this is only an estimate. We cannot precisely determine what your needs are without an examination by our doctor.
Can all teeth be treated?
A few teeth cannot be treated successfully. We will explain potential complications before treatment. Certain cases will require additional surgical treatment if the area does not heal properly after the root canal therapy has been completed.
How does your office make me comfortable?
We provide nitrous oxide and oral sedation. Digital Radiography is utilized to reduce patient exposure to radiation by 90%. We use electronic apex locators (particularly useful for pregnant patients) to reduce the number of x-rays. We utilize the operating microscope, which has increased the success rate in endodontics and also facilitates the treatment of difficult cases in one appointment. Televisions with headphones are available during the procedure. Patient comfort and satisfaction are our primary concerns.
How long will the root canal take?
Ninety-five percent of most root canals are completed in one office visit. You should plan on 90 minutes for an office visit.
Do I need to return to my general dentist?
Yes! When you complete your root canal treatment, we place a temporary filling in the crown of your tooth. Your tooth needs to be permanently restored and we advise you to call your referring dentist to schedule that appointment promptly. If the tooth is still sore or painful after two weeks, contact our office for an evaluation.
What should I expect after the root canal?
The tooth will be sore and tender for three or four days. We strongly recommend that you take 600mg of ibuprofen/Advil/Motrin every six hours for two days, if you are able to take the medication. Most patients experience minimal or no discomfort. If there is swelling or severe pain, contact our office.
Should I be worried about the x-rays?
No. Modern dental radiography is the safest form of radiology used in medicine today. We usually take four x-rays during a root canal. We use digital x-rays which emit 90% less radiation than traditional film.
What happens after treatment?
When your root canal has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your referring dentist. You should contact your General Dentist’s office for a permanent restoration within a few weeks of completion of the root canal, if the tooth is asymptomatic (no pain). Your dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth.