WHAT IS ENDODONTICS

ABOUT ENDODONTICS

Endodontics is the treatment of the diseased or infected dental pulp, which is the soft inner tissue of a tooth. The word "endodontic" comes from the Greek "endo" ,meaning inside and "odont" meaning tooth. Many teeth can be especially difficult to diagnose and treat. The complexity of anatomy or the bacterial infection often create a case which is beyond the skill level and experience of a general dentist. Usually, posterior (back) teeth and teeth that have had previous endodontic treatment, require an experienced clinician with advanced training, especially where a substantial amount of time, effort and money is going to be invested in your tooth. Often advanced techniques, materials and equipment are required for a successful, long-term result. For this reason, many dentists choose to refer their patients to endodontists.

 

Endodontists are dentists who specialize in maintaining teeth through endodontic therapy procedures involving the pulp. In addition to undergraduate dental school, endodontists gain experience in general practice and then undertake two or more years of advanced education in endodontics. They study advanced root canal techniques and procedures in greater depth, for diagnosis and treatment of more difficult cases.

What happens during endodontic treatment?

A local anaesthetic will be given.  A sheet of latex called rubber dam (we've got non-latex ones too) will be placed around the tooth to isolate it, keeping it clean during treatment and protecting your airway.  The treatment consists of three or four basic steps, but the number of visits will depend on your particular case. Treatment depends on the degree of infection/inflammation and the degree of difficulty.    

Most treatments take two visits but some can be done in a single visit.  Occasionally three appointments are needed. In any event, we believe it's more important to do the very best we can than to meet  specific time criteria.

Root canal or endodontic therapy has a very high degree of success. Teeth which can be treated in near-ideal circumstances have a success rate of up to 94 percent. The survival rate for teeth having endodontic treatment and a crown is equivalent to that of dental implants.  We will discuss with you the chances of success before any endodontic procedure to help you make an informed decision. There are, of course, no guarantees.   If a root canal or endodontic therapy is unsuccessful or fails you still have options.

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Diagnosing and treating 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.

Treatment of traumatic injuries to teeth

Pulp (nerve) and root damage is sometimes caused by a blow to the mouth, and the endodontist specializes in treating the complications associated with 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.

 

Re-treatment

Occasionally a tooth that has already undergone endodontic treatment fails to heal or pain/infection 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 surgery on the root end. This treatment is more complicated than initial treatment and is best carried out by an endodontic specialist who has the advanced training and experience.

 

Will I need to see my dentist after endodontic treatment is completed?

Proper restoration (above-gum filling) of the tooth is essential after root canal treatment has been completed. In many cases, this will involve a crown. This measure is important to protect your tooth and reduce the risk of the tooth cracking in the long-term. Usually your referring dentist will organise the placement of the final restoration or crown.

 

Will I need to return to your office for additional visits?

Once endodontic therapy is completed your tooth should be examined periodically; usually at 6 and 12 months after treatment. This allows us to make sure the tooth has healed or is healing properly. You will be sent a notice in the mail or by email when we feel it is appropriate to re-evaluate the area.