What is an Endodontist?
Several Reasons Why You Will Need One
Usually, you only need a general dentist to help you take care of your teeth. A general dentist is very well trained to clean your teeth professionally, cover cavities with fillings, and use restorative solutions to protect your teeth. They can also extract teeth that can no longer be saved, and install replacement teeth to restore your smile and the function of your teeth.
But in some cases, you may need an endodontist. This is a dental specialist who focuses on problems inside the teeth. Endodontists have received at least two more years of specialized training after finishing dental school.
There are many advantages to going to an endodontist than just a general dentist. First of all, they have more experience in dealing with problems inside your teeth. In addition, their specialty often requires them to have more advanced tools which general dentists may not have.
Treatments and Procedures Offered by Endodontists
- Root Canal Therapy
- Endodontic Retreatment
- Endodontic Surgery
- Treating Traumatic Dental Injuries
This is perhaps the most common reason why you would need to see an endodontist. Their experience in performing root canals helps them perfect their craft and makes them less susceptible to making a mistake. A typical endodontist may average about 25 root canal treatments a week, while a general dentist may perform only about 2 a week. That means endodontists regularly end up doing 1,300 root canals a year.
A root canal is a treatment procedure designed to preserve the tooth even if the pulp inside it becomes infected. During the development of the tooth, the pulp is needed because it helps grow the root of the tooth. However, once the tooth has fully developed, it is no longer absolutely necessary and the tooth can survive without it.
The problem is that the pulp can become infected with bacteria. This can lead to pain and even more complications. The solution is root canal treatment, wherein the infected pulp us removed and then the inside of the tooth is then thoroughly cleaned and disinfected so there will be no reoccurrence of the infection from the inside. The inside is then sealed with a rubber like material known as gutta-percha, along with filling or a crown so that bacteria can no longer get inside it.
The procedure is normally painless, especially when it’s done by an experienced endodontist. Best of all, with a successful root canal therapy, you won’t lose your tooth.
Sometimes though even after a root canal treatment is performed, the infection may come back. This reinfection may occur a few months or even several years after you’ve had your root canal. The cause of the new infection may be that not all of the bacteria inside the mouth were eliminated, and some of them may have been left undetected inside the tiny canals in the tooth before it was sealed. It’s also possible that the new infection may have come from bacteria that were able to penetrate the tooth, which is often the case if the seal that protected the tooth failed to keep the bacteria out or if the tooth suffered new damage.
Either way, the endodontist will remove the crown from the tooth, open a new hole inside, and then remove the filling materials in the root canals inside the tooth. The endodontist will then check for additional root canals in which the bacteria may be hiding. Any new infection is removed, the canals are again cleaned thoroughly, and new filling materials are put in place. Then the opening in the tooth is covered with temporary fillings until it heals. Afterwards, the endodontist will place a new crown to seal the tooth.
A root canal treatment is not a surgical procedure. But in some cases, endodontic surgery is necessary when nonsurgical measures are insufficient. The surgery may reveal hidden root canals or tiny fractures that the X-rays didn’t reveal during the root canal treatment. Surgery may also be used to treat the damage on the surfaces of the root or on the surrounding bone of the tooth. It can also be used to remove any calcium deposits in the root canals.
The most common surgical procedure in endodontics is called an apicoectomy. In this case, the surgery will involve opening the gum tissue near your affected tooth to inspect the underlying bone and to remove any infected or inflamed tissues. Usually this procedure will be done because the infection remains in the bony area at the end of the tooth, so even the end of the root will be removed as well.
The endodontist will then seal it with a small filling and sutures and stitches will be used to help the gum tissue heal. The discomfort you’ll feel after the procedure is usually mild, and most people return to their normal activities the next day. You’ll need only a local anesthesia for thhis procedure. Over the course of a few months, the bone around the end of the root will heal and you shouldn’t have any more problems.
- Treating Traumatic Dental Injuries
Endodontists are also specialists in treating any dental injury. Even if you think the trauma you sustained in your tooth is mild, it may be enough to let bacteria in and can cause an infection inside your tooth. You may suffer a chip in your tooth or even lose the tooth completely.
It’s imperative that you see an endodontist quickly (especially for knocked out tooth) so that you can save the tooth. For a chipped tooth, the broken piece may be reattached or a filling can replace the missing portion. Crown may also be needed. Dislodged or knocked out teeth can also be reset with a stabilizing splint, and root canal treatment may become necessary.
Advantages of Seeing an Endodontist
To an endodontist, a root canal is a routine procedure and some endodontic surgeries may be beyond the capabilities of a general dentist. They can accept emergency cases with their more flexible schedule, and they use advanced technology to help treat their patients and make them feel comfortable. See an endodontist if you need a root canal or other endodontic treatments, and you’ll generally get better results and faster healing times afterwards.
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