What Is An Endodontist?
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 or more 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.
Root Canal Treatment
A local anesthetic will be given. A sheet of latex called the "rubber dam" (we've got nonlatex 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 visits but many are just a single visit. Occasionally 3 appointments are needed.
In any case, it depends on the degree of infection/inflammation and degree of treatment difficulty. We believe it's more important to do the very best we can than to meet a specific time criteria.
There are, of course, no guarantees. Root canal or endodontic therapy has a very high degree of success, studies suggest up to 96%. 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.
Root Canal 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.
Endodontic surgery can help save your tooth in variety of situations.
- Occasionally, canals are too calcified and narrow for the instruments used in nonsurgical root canal treatment to reach the end of the root. Endodontic surgery is then required to clean and seal the remainder of the canal.
- When symptoms persist after non-surgical treatment, endodontic surgery may be used as a diagnostic aid. Your tooth may have a tiny fracture or canal that could not be located during nonsurgical treatment. Endodontic surgery allows the entire root of your tooth to be examined allowing the problem to be located and the correct treatment provided.
- Endodontic surgery is also performed to treat damaged root surfaces or surrounding bone.
The most common surgical procedure performed to save a tooth is termed an apicoectomy. This is done when infection and inflammation persist in the bony area around the end of your root following a root canal.
Traumatic Dental 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 bone 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.