What is endodontics?
Endodontics is a branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association involving treatment of the pulp (root canal) and the 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 and cementum. The inside channel or "root canal" contains the pulp. The pulp consists 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 function normally.
I'm worried about x-rays. Should I be?
No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontic treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, that produces radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of already low dose conventional dental x-ray machinery. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to your referring dentist, other dental providers or your insurance company.
What about infection control?
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 root canal therapy has been completed, a treatment report will be sent to your restorative dentist. You must contact his/her office for a final restoration or crown on the tooth within a few weeks after the completion of the root canal treatment. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to best protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. We are available to assist you at all times if a problem does occur.
Can all teeth be treated endodontically?
Most teeth can be treated. Occasionally, a tooth cannot be treated because the root canals are not accessible, the root is severely fractured, the tooth does not have adequate bone support, or the tooth cannot be restored. However, advances in endodontics are making it possible to save teeth that even a few years ago would have been lost. Furthermore, when endodontic treatment is not effective, endodontic surgery may be able to save the tooth.
What are the alternatives to endodontic treatment?
When the pulp of a tooth is damaged, the only alternative to endodontic treatment is extraction of the tooth. To restore chewing function and to prevent adjacent teeth from shifting, the extracted tooth must be replaced with an implant or bridge. This requires surgery or dental procedures on adjacent healthy teeth and can be far more costly and time consuming than endodontic treatment and restoration of the natural tooth. No matter how effective modern tooth replacements are- and they can be very effective- nothing is as good as your natural tooth.
What new technologies are being used?
In order to determine the proper length of your tooth, we utilize an advanced electronic root-end measuring device known as an apex locator. This measuring technology will ensure accuracy of instrumentation. These devices work by calculating resistance of tooth structure to provide a visual and audible signal indicating root length.
The use of ultrasonic instrumentation allows for removal of obstructions, posts and pulp stones. In addition, it aids in the search for calcified canals with minimal removal of natural tooth structure.
Dental Operating Microscopes:
Magnification and fiber optic illumination are helpful in aiding the doctor to see tiny details inside your tooth. The dental operating microscope allows us to visualize and inspect the internal anatomy of the tooth, confirm the presence of cracks or fractures, help locate and treat calcified canals, repair damaged surfaces and increase the possibility in retrieving separated instruments. Currently, all graduate endodontic programs teach microscopic endodontics and consider its use the standard of care in performing non-surgical and surgical root canal therapy.