What is an Endodontist and what do they do?

Endodontists are dentists who specialize in maintaining teeth through endodontic therapy – procedures, involving the soft inner tissue of the teeth, called the pulp. The word "endodontic" comes from "endo" meaning inside and "odont" meaning tooth. Like many medical terms, it's Greek. All dentists are trained in diagnosis and endodontic therapy, however, some teeth can be especially difficult to diagnose and treat. That's why you may have been referred to an endodontic specialist.

In addition to dental school, endodontists receive two to three years of advanced education in this kind of treatment. They study root canal techniques and procedures in greater depth, for diagnosis and treatment of more difficult cases. For this reason, many dentists choose to refer their patients to endodontists.

What Happens During Endodontic Treatment? And What is a Root Canal?

A local anesthetic will be given. A sheet of latex called the "rubber dam" (we have non-latex ones too) will be 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 or more visits but most are just a single visit. The goal of root canal treatment is to remove the tissue and bacteria from inside the tooth and then to seal it back up to prevent recontamination.

In any case, the number of visits required depends on the degree of infection/inflammation and level of treatment difficulty. To us, it's more important to do the very best we can, rather than to meet a specific time criteria. Root canal or endodontic therapy has a very high degree of success, 95% or more! Teeth which can be treated near ideal have a success rate up to 100 percent! We will discuss with you the chances of success before any endodontic procedure to help you make an informed decision. If a root canal or endodontic therapy is unsuccessful or fails you still have options which can then be discussed.

Diagnoses and Treats Pain

Oral pain such as toothaches or cracked/fractured teeth can often be difficult to pinpoint. Because of the vast network of nerves in the mouth, the pain of a damaged or diseased tooth often is felt in another tooth and/or in the head, neck, or ear. An endodontist is a specialist in diagnosing and treating this type of pain.

Treats Traumatic Injuries

Pulp damage is sometimes caused by a blow to the mouth, and the endodontist specializes in treating these traumatic injuries. For example, a blow to a child's permanent tooth that is not fully developed can cause the root to stop growing. A procedure called apexification stimulates the tooth to be deposited at the end of the root which makes it possible to then save the tooth through a root canal procedure. An endodontist is specially trained in procedures for replanting teeth that have been knocked out of their sockets as well. If you have a traumatic injury, please contact us right away for treatment or at least a baseline evaluation.

Will I need to return to your office for Additional Visits?

Once endodontic therapy is completed, your tooth should be examined periodically, usually every 6-12 months. This allows us to make sure the tooth has healed or is healing properly. You will be sent a notice in the mail when we feel it is appropriate to reevaluate the area.

Retreatment

Occasionally, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment fails to heal or pain continues despite therapy. Although rare, sometimes a tooth initially responds to root canal therapy but becomes painful or diseased months or years later. When either of these situations occur, the tooth often can be maintained with a second endodontic treatment or through periapical surgery. We would be happy to discuss these options with you should the need arise.

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