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Endodontic FAQ


What is Endodontics?

Endodontics is a branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA) involving treatment of the pulp (root canal) and 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, the inside channel or “root canal” contains a pulp of soft tissue, blood vessels, nerves and lymphatics. 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 (root canal, apicoectomy, re-treatment), the tooth continues to perform normally.

How is an endodontist different than a general dentist?

Endodontists are dentists who have dedicated their practice to performing root canal therapy and root-related surgeries. To become a root canal specialist, the ADA requires dentists to complete additional formal residency at an ADA-accredited program which can be 2-3 years long.

Why can’t my own dentist perform root canal treatment?

General dentist can perform endodontic treatment. However, certain teeth and situations are better suited for specialty care. The root canal system can be complicated, which is why it is a recognized specialty of dentistry. Like medical care, there are procedures and disorders that a primary care physician would prefer to have a specialist manage. Likewise, your general dentist has referred you to an endodontist accordingly.

I’m concerned about infection control. Should I be?

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 advanced sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection.

Will I have discomfort after treatment?

On average, there can be discomfort after root canal therapy or surgery for 3-5 days. Typically, patients can return to work on the same day and there are usually no physical limitations needed after treatment. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are recommended post-operatively. If needed, stronger pain medications along with antibiotics may also be prescribed. Please see the “instructions” section of our website for further details.

What do I need to tell my regular dentist after treatment?

When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative (regular) dentist. You should contact your regular dentist for a follow-up restoration within 1-2 weeks after treatment completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of permanent restoration is necessary to protect your tooth.

What new technologies are being used at your office?

Operating Microscopes:
We utilize special operating microscopes. Magnification and fiber optic illumination help doctors to visualize details of your tooth and root canal system.

Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT):
Dental cone beam computed tomography (also commonly referred to as "CT scan"), is a special type of imaging technology used to enhance diagnosis and improve patient care. Your doctor may use this technology to produce three dimensional (3-D) images of your teeth, soft tissues, nerve pathways and bone in a single scan.

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