Frequently Asked Questions
What is endodontics?
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 new technologies are being used?
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. We also utilize advanced rotary instrumentation to clean and shape your canals, resulting in less post treatment discomfort.
Why do I need root canal therapy?
Root canal therapy is necessary when the pulp of your tooth becomes diseased or damaged. The disease or damage can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth or a crack or chip in the tooth. Additionally, a previous blow to a tooth may cause pulp damage.
What is root canal therapy?
During root canal therapy, our doctor will remove the affected pulp tissue, carefully clean and shape the inside of your tooth and then fill and seal the space. Afterwards, you will return to your dentist who will place a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.
What may occur if I elect not to have root canal therapy and my tooth goes untreated?
If a diseased or damaged pulp is not removed, the tooth and surrounding tissues may become inflamed and/or infected, eventually resulting in an abscess. Left untreated, ultimately the tooth will have to be removed.
Why should I have root canal therapy rather than have the tooth extracted?
Our own natural teeth are always best. Authorities agree that artificial substitutes do not function or appear quite as well as natural teeth. In addition, extraction and replacement is usually much more costly.
If the pulp is removed will I have a “dead” tooth?
No. The tooth has two blood supplies. The pulp supply will be gone, but the other supply that comes from the surrounding tissues, which supplies the root surface will continue to function.
What can I expect during root canal therapy?
Root canal therapy is often performed in one or two visits and involves the following steps:
- Local anesthetic is administered
- A small opening is made in the crown of your tooth ~- Very small instruments are used to remove the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals
- Root canals are filled with a biocompatible material called gutta perch. A temporary filling is placed to close the opening; your general dentist will replace this with a permanent restoration
I’m worried about x-rays. Should I be?
No. Modern dental radiography is the safest form of radiology used in medicine today. Before, during, and after root canal treatment, usually a total of only four to five x-ray films will be necessary.
What about infection?
Again, there’s no need for concern. We adhere to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association. We utilize autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection.
What happens after treatment?
When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact his office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, however, we are available at all times to respond.