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Endodontics

 

The term endodontics actually came from the Greek words endo meaning ‘inside’ and odons meaning ‘tooth.’ It is one of the nine specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. Endodontics is the new way for people to save teeth that are diseased or damaged. In the past, dentists would pull these irregular teeth. But in today’s world, dentists send patients to endodontists. Endodontists are dental specialists that perform root canal therapy, which saves natural teeth and relieves oral and facial pain. They use a special microscope to peer into the tooth. The tool provides a crystal-clear look in the space within the tooth, enabling them to more thoroughly clean and locate the nerve canals.

Root canal therapy is the most common form of endodontic treatment, but there are many more types of procedures endodontists use to help their patients, including treating cracked teeth and treating dental trauma. Brief descriptions of endodontic procedures are listed below.

Endodontic Procedures

There are several types of endodontic procedures used to diagnose and treat oral pain involving the pulp (nerve), including:

  • Root Canal Therapy – see below
  • Pulpotomy – to remove dental pulp from the pulp chamber
  • Apicoectomy- to surgically remove tooth structure
  • Root-End Resectio n- to remove the root tip and surrounding infected tissue in an abscessed tooth
  • Hemisection – to cut a tooth with two roots in half
  • Bicuspidization – to change tricuspid valve into a functioning bicuspid valve
  • Root-End Filling – to establish an apical seal of the resected root
  • Endodontic Implants – these extend through the root canal into the periapical bone structure
  • Bleaching – to bleach the dentin and enamel
  • Placement Posts – to place posts or cores to save and strengthen the tooth/teeth

Endodontic Problem Symptoms

You may need to see an endodontist if the following is occurring to you:

  • Tooth discoloration
  • Swelling
  • Gum tenderness (even when chewing)
  • Tooth discomfort or pain
  • Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold over a long period of time
  • Drainage in the lymph nodes, jaw bone and gingival tissues

What is Root Canal Therapy?

Root canal therapy is when the endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp (nerve). He or she then carefully cleans and shapes the nerve canals of the tooth’s root, then seals it. Generally a temporary cap or crown will be placed on the root canal until the patient can come in for a second (in some cases a third) time. Most root canal procedures can be done in one visit, lasting 30-90 minutes on average. If you need to receive multiple root canals, your treatment plan may be extended over the period of several months to complete treatment.

Am I a Candidate for a Root Canal?

Here are a few questions that may or may not suggest you need to see an endodontist:

  • Do you have deep cavities?
  • Do you feel a large amount of pain inside a tooth?
  • Do you have broken or chipped teeth that expose the inner tooth?
  • Is there an infection in or around your tooth?
  • Are your gums inflamed around the tooth in distress?

Endodontic treatment is necessary when the nerve inside the tooth becomes inflamed or infected. The most common reasons for inflammation and infection are deep cavities, repeated dental procedures, cracks, chips, or trauma to the teeth. Teeth that are inflamed or infected and are left untreated can turn into abscess teeth, which require extensive dental work.

Page updated February 2011

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