What Is Endodontics?
Endodontists are dentists who specialize in maintaining teeth through 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 is 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.
What Happens During Endodontic Treatment? What is involved in a Root Canal?
A local anesthetic will be given. A sheet of latex called the "rubber dam" (we've got 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 two visits but many are just a single visit. Occasionally three appointments are required.
How many treatments will be required depends on the degree of infection or inflammation and the degree of treatment difficulty. Dr. Grover believes it is more important to do provide the very best treatment possible than to attempt to meet an arbitrary time criteria. Let's look at the basic steps for nonsurgical endodontic therapy.
There are no guarantees, of course, but root canal or endodontic therapy has a high degree of success, up to ninety percent. We will discuss with you the chances of success before any endodontic procedure so that you will be able to make an informed decision. If a root canal or endodontic therapy is unsuccessful or fails, there will still be options you can select.
Diagnoses and Pain Treatment
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
A blow to the mouth sometimes causes pulp damage. An 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.
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. Since an abscess may take 2 years to heal, our office will reevaluate the tooth for at least 2 years.
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 occurs, the tooth often can be maintained with a second endodontic treatment.
Will the treatment be painful?
We will take every measure to ensure that your procedure is in no way uncomfortable or painful. If treatment is needed, we will inject a small amount of anesthesia to gently numb a concentrated area of your mouth. For most patients, the feeling of numbness usually subsides after two or three hours.
Will I need to return to your office for follow-ups after the procedure is finished?
Yes, for most root canal treatments, we recommend that patients return to the office one year after the procedure was finished. Our office will send a reminder notice to you when you are due for a recall appointment.