If you’ve been referred to an endodontist for a dental problem, you may wonder what exactly makes an endodontist different from a regular dentist. The field of endodontics is a specialized form of dentistry that deals with the pulp and the tissues that surround the roots of teeth. At Implant and Comprehensive Dentistry in Champions Gate, FL we can take care of even your toughest endodontic conditions in a compassionate and relaxing environment.
What Is Endodontics?
An endodontist is a dentist that specializes in conditions that are inside of the teeth. They perform dental procedures on the pulp within the teeth, and the roots which extend inside the teeth. Overall, an endodontist specializes in performing dental procedures that save natural teeth, even those that have been extensively damaged from decay, injury, or other causes.
Purpose of Endodontic Treatments
While the overarching purpose of endodontic treatments is to save natural teeth as much as possible, there are some secondary purposes that support this overall mission. Endodontists disinfect infected root canals, remove pathological pulp from teeth, clean out the root canal system, reshape the root canal system, and fill the root canal system to prevent another infection and to encourage healing. While many dentists can perform endodontic treatments like root canal procedures, a specialist is usually more qualified.
Conditions Treated by Endodontists
The primary procedure performed by endodontists is a root canal, which can be a necessary procedure for a variety of reasons. A patient who’s suffered trauma to their mouth may need a root canal because the inner part of the teeth has died. Someone who has a cavity that’s decayed through to the inner part of their tooth will need a root canal. Teeth with infected pulp, cracked or broken teeth, and loose fillings are also treated by endodontists.
Essentially, endodontists can perform all the same treatments as a regular dentist, but they focus on root canal surgeries and treatments and addressing dental trauma. Some endodontists, like our office, also offer tooth restoration services, which include crowns, veneers, dentures, partials, and bridges. We can also handle your routine dental care including cleanings and checkups, teeth whitening services, and fillings. Our comprehensive dentistry offerings allow you to receive seamless care no matter what dental service you need.
When To See An Endodontist
Many patients wait until they’re in pain from an infected or decayed tooth before they get a referral to an endodontist. You don’t have to wait, though, as there are some signs that you may need the services of an endodontist before you reach the point of pain. If you’ve suffered from an injury to your mouth or teeth from any type of accident, you should see an endodontist right away to prevent any broken teeth from getting worse.
You’re Experiencing Swelling
Patients who have noticed their teeth have become sensitive to hot or cold liquids and foods should be evaluated by an endodontist. This is usually an indication that the enamel on your teeth has worn away and your nerve endings are exposed, leading to sensitivity and pain. Unusual swelling of your gums or around your teeth should also be examined as soon as possible to identify any infections that need to be treated.
You’re Experiencing Pain
Other signs that could signal your need for a root canal include tooth discoloration, unexplained loose teeth, and cracked or broken teeth. The most common complaint of people who are referred to endodontists, though, is persistent tooth pain. If you have a toothache that’s not getting better, then it’s only going to get worse without treatment. Keep in mind that a root canal does not cause pain, it gets you out of pain, so don’t put it off.
The Root Canal Procedure
Learning that you need a root canal can be scary; however, that’s exactly the reason you need to see an endodontist. You want someone who specializes in root canal procedures to take care of your needs, not only because they have performed hundreds of them, but also because they know how to make the procedure as comfortable as possible. Our office will provide you with sedation, distractions, and comfort to ensure you have a good endodontic experience.
Additionally, knowing what the procedure consists of and the steps we’ll take to complete your root canal can help make you more comfortable with the treatment. We’ll explain the entire procedure to you before and during your appointment, and you are encouraged to ask any questions you have about any part of the process whenever they come up. Our goal is to remove the fear and anxiety that you may have surrounding dental procedures and treatments.
Step 1: X-Rays
Even if your dentist has already taken x-rays before they referred you to us, we’ll want to get our own pictures to provide exactly the views we need to perform the root canal in the best way possible.
Step 2: Sedation
At this point, we’ll provide sedation to you based on your personalized treatment plan that we will develop with you prior to your procedure. We offer minimal sedation options, which can be oral or inhaled (nitrous oxide) to help keep you relaxed and comfortable during the procedure. If we decide oral sedation is the right choice for you, we will provide the medication about an hour before the procedure begins to ensure it takes full effect.
Step 3: Impressions
We will use this time to take impressions of your teeth so that we can create a crown for your damaged tooth. We will also use this mold to create a temporary crown that will cover your tooth following the root canal procedure until it heals.
Step 4: Local Anesthetic
To numb the treatment area, we’ll administer an injectable local anesthetic, which will be painless because you’ll be sedated.
Step 5: Cleaning, Drying, and Protection
When your tooth is fully numb, we’ll clean it, dry it, and place a “dental dam” over it to make sure it stays dry during the procedure. This will prevent saliva from entering the treatment area.
Step 6: Removing the Pulp
We’ll drill an opening in the crown of your tooth so that our instruments can be inserted. We’ll use those instruments to remove the pulp from your tooth and clean the pulp chamber and root canals to prevent re-infection. Our instruments are very small so the hole does not need to be huge, but it will need to be filled.
Step 7: Filling
After we clean the chamber and root canal, we’ll fill the space with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha, which is a rubber-like substance that prevents bacteria from entering the hollowed-out chamber. We’ll then put a temporary crown over your tooth (and the hole we drilled) to allow it to heal from the procedure.
Step 8: Restoration
About two weeks following your root canal procedure, you’ll return to our office for restoration. We’ll have used the impressions we made at your root canal appointment to make a permanent custom crown to cover your tooth. We will ensure your bite is accurate and that the spacing between the crown and your other teeth is adequate before you leave our office.
Most root canal procedures take between 30 and 60 minutes to complete, with more complex cases taking as long as 90 minutes. One major benefit of having your root canal done by a specialist is that they have the procedure down to an exact science, so they will complete the treatment in less time than someone with less experience. If you require sedation, the time you’ll need to be at the office will be longer by about an hour.
Molars tend to take the longest for a root canal because they have four roots. Many of these cases take as long as 90 minutes. Premolars have one or two roots and will take about an hour to complete, and canines and incisors, with one root each, will take between 30 and 45 minutes. When you return to get your dental crown, you can expect the appointment to last around an hour, depending on how well it fits and any adjustments that need to be made.
Root Canal vs. Tooth Extraction
Many patients wonder why they don’t just get their damaged or decayed tooth removed instead of undergoing a root canal. After all, tooth extraction is usually less expensive and doesn’t require as many appointments. The answer is that it’s always healthier to keep as many of your natural teeth as possible, even if some of them are partially removed or covered with crowns. Additionally, an extraction can actually be more expensive and require more appointments as well.
When you have a tooth removed, you can’t just keep the hole there forever, unless you want the rest of your teeth to start caving in toward the gap. Your teeth are necessary to prevent bone loss in your jaw, so without teeth, you will lose support for the surrounding teeth. This will eventually lead to even more lost teeth. As such, you may need an implant, bridge, or other dental appliance to replace the tooth and maintain bone structure.
You should continue to take care of all your teeth, including the one that’s had a root canal, using best dental hygiene practices. This means you should brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Be sure to floss next to your dental crown on all sides just as you would with any other tooth. We also recommend the regular use of antiseptic mouthwash to clean in areas you can’t reach with a brush and floss.
Get your teeth cleaned and examined at least twice a year, which can be done through our office or with your regular dentist. We will inspect your crown each time to make sure it’s still in good condition. If you notice any irregularities with your crown, or if you experience any pain under the crown or around the treatment area, be sure to notify us right away so we can avoid any complications with your procedure.
Make An Appointment Today!
Root canals and other endodontic procedures have a bad reputation as being painful. However, the truth is, these are surprisingly gentle treatments that actually alleviate the pain from your mouth. No one wants to have a root canal, but if you need one, we’ll ensure the experience is as positive as possible. Contact us at Implant and Comprehensive Dentistry in Champions Gate, FL for an evaluation today.