FAQ’s – Department of Endodontics
Who is an Endodontist?
An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in endodontic (root canal) treatments. All endodontists are dentists but not all dentists are endodontists.
He/ She is a dental practitioner specializing in teeth maintenance through endodontic therapy. The procedure involves the treatment of the pulp, which is the softer inner tissue of the teeth. While all dentists are trained in endodontic treatment and diagnosis, some teeth and gum diseases can be challenging to diagnose and treat. That’s probably the reason a general dental practitioner referred you to a specialist in endodontics.
Upon graduating from dental school, an endodontist has to enroll for an advanced course in endodontics. Aspiring endodontists will study root canal procedures and techniques in depth to aid in treating and diagnosing complicated cases. That’s why general dental practitioners often refer to patients with complicated dental issues to a specialist in endodontic therapy.
What is a Root Canal Treatment (RCT)?
A specialist in endodontics will first put a patient under anesthesia and then place a sheet of latex around the tooth to isolate it and keep it dry and clean during the treatment. The endodontic treatment takes four steps, but the number of appointments depends on the situation. Most cases require a single visit while some can take two or three sessions. In any case, visits depend on the degree of treatment difficulty and degree of inflammation or infection. The success rate of endodontic therapy or root canal can be as high as 90%. However, patients may first have to discuss their success rate with their endodontists before undergoing the procedure. You still have options in case endodontic therapy or root canal fails.
What’s involved With The Procedure?
Endodontic therapy takes three steps and can take a maximum of three sessions to complete.
- Access opening. Firstly, the endodontist removes any residue that is inside the root canal. However, the patient must be under anesthesia before the dental specialist makes an access hole on the root surface and uses small files to remove the dead and diseased pulp tissue.
- Shaping and filling the Root Canal.Next, the dental practitioner uses irrigation solutions and tiny files to shape, clean, and decontaminate the hollow area. Then the endodontic specialist will use a rubber-like material to fill the tooth and an adhesive cement to seal the root canal. Your tooth will probably be dead after root canal therapy. The procedure eliminates any infection and removes the nerve tissue to get rid of any pain on a cracked or fractured tooth.
- Adding a Crown to the Tooth. The root canal procedure will leave a diseased or damaged tooth more fragile than it was. The ligament that attaches the bone to the teeth is responsible for nourishing any tooth with no pulp. While that nourishment is adequate, the tooth will over time be more brittle, but filling or crowning it can protect it. Crowning or filling a tooth takes only one appointment, but one or two additional visits may be necessary for a tooth with infections, multi-canals, or curved canals.
How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?
The cost of root canals depends on the-
- Patient’s location
- The type of tooth being fixed
- The complexity of the case
How Painful are the Endodontics Procedures?
One of the fears about the root canal procedure is that it is painful. However, any procedure done by a trained and experienced endodontist should be relatively painless. Instead, the pain should be as a result of infection and not treatment. The root canal procedure doesn’t cause any pain but instead helps alleviate it.
What causes a root canal infection?
The pulp, which is the soft tissue inside the root canal, can become inflamed or infected for a variety of reasons, including:
- Deep decay;
- Repeated dental procedures on the tooth;
- A faulty crown, or;
- A crack or chip in the tooth*
Additionally, an injury to the tooth can cause damage to the pulp, even if there is no visible crack or chip.*
Understanding the origin of your root canal system infection will help determine which treatment options are viable for resolving your infection, as well as help you take steps toward preventing the need for a root canal in the future.
Why do I need to treat my root canal infection?
If you’re in need of a root canal, you’re probably already facing one of the common root canal symptoms, including:
- Severe pain while chewing or biting;
- Sinus opening on the gums
- A chipped or cracked tooth
- Lingering sensitivity to hot or cold, even after the sensation has been removed;
- Swollen or tender gums
Delaying treatment will ultimately only make these root canal symptoms worse and potentially cause larger issues, including:
- Increased pain
- Bone loss around the tooth
Any infection can also spread to the surrounding tissue in the mouth and the longer you avoid treating the infection, the further the infection can spread in your body. In more severe cases, an untreated root canal system infection can even spread to the jaw, the face or the bloodstream.
What are my treatment options?
When reviewing your treatment options, you’ll ultimately want to work to save your natural tooth through an endodontic treatment, as saving your natural tooth offers a number of advantages, including:
- Efficient chewing;
- Normal biting force and sensation;
- Natural appearance, and;
- Protection of other teeth from excessive wear or strain**
Can I increase my chances of a successful root canal treatment?
Immediately following treatment, you should avoid eating until the numbness wears off to limit the risk of biting your cheek or tongue. You should also avoid chewing or biting on the treated tooth until it’s fully restored so that you don’t damage it.
Ensure that you schedule and complete any follow-up appointments, including completing the final crown. This appointment should be scheduled as soon as possible for optimal results, as a properly treated and restored tooth can offer the same longevity as a natural tooth.
Proper oral health care following your procedure is also critical for long-term success. You should ensure that you brush twice a day, floss once a day and keep up with twice-yearly dental cleanings and exams.
What is Endodontic Surgery (Apicoectomy)?
Endodontic surgery is a common type of tooth surgery that involves different types of surgical procedures to save a tooth. These occur when there is root canal damage. Endodontic surgery is carried out only when the damage is intense and cannot be treated by non-surgical means.
When Do I Require Endodontic Surgery?
Endodontic surgery is carried out when the non-surgical root canal procedure is unable to save your tooth.
This happens when the root canal is intensely damaged or there is an infection in the periapical region like in the cases of periapical cysts.
What About Traumatic Injuries to the tooth?
A blow to the mouth can sometimes cause pulp damages, but endodontic therapists specialize in treating any of these injuries. A blow to the permanent tooth of a child, for example, can stop the growth of the root. However, endodontic therapists are trained in apexification, a procedure that stimulates depositing of bones at the of the base of the tooth to not only promote teeth growth but also save a fractured or cracked tooth through endodontic therapy or root canal procedure. These specialists are highly trained and experienced in replanting any tooth that came out of its socket due to a blow to the mouth.
Experts recommend regular visits to an endodontic practice for a checkup once the root canal procedure is complete. It can take 6 to 12 months for the root canal procedure to complete. That period allows the endodontic to monitor your progress to make sure that the fractured or cracked tooth heals appropriately and as quickly as possible.
What is endodontic re-treatment?
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 (retreatment).