What is endodontics?
Endodontics is a branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association 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 and nerves. The primary purpose of this tissue was to grow the tooth from the time you were a child. 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 perform normally.
I’m worried about x-rays. Should I be?
No, not in our office. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontics 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. We often take different types and different views of the tooth than what the dentist routinely takes. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to cotherapists via e-mail or CD-ROM.
What about infection?
Again, there’s no need for concern. 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 your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact his/her office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office (permanent filling and/or crown). Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, however, we are available at all times to respond. (Click here to view Post Treatment Instructions)
What new technologies are being used?
In addition to digital radiography, an advanced endodontic software program, state of the art instruments, a Carestream 3D CBCT machine, and special operating microscopes are used. Magnification and LED illumination are helpful in aiding the doctor to see tiny details inside your tooth. Also, a special camera on the operating microscope can record images of your tooth to further document the doctor’s findings. Although these may look like fancy toys, or gimmicks, they are not. They are all indispensable instruments that help us provide you with outstanding care.
Will the treatment be painful?
We will take every measure to ensure that your procedure is in no way uncomfortable or painful. If treatment is needed, we will administer sufficient anesthesia to numb a concentrated area of your mouth. For most patients, the feeling of numbness subsides after 2-3 hours. Generally the worst part about a root canal is worrying about a root canal!
Will I need to return to your office for follow-ups after the procedure is finished?
Yes, for most root canal treatments, we recommend that patients return to the office periodically for a follow up evaluation. This is usually done at 1 year post-treatment. There is no charge for this evaluation.
Do you offer sedation for anxious patients?
No, not really. Very few endodontists offer IV or nitrous sedation. We find that sedation is really not needed in the vast majority of cases. We treat patients from 6 years old to 99 years old with no issues. Really! If you typically take an anti anxiety medication, take it. If you feel as though you may need other accommodations, I recommend you come in for an initial consult. We can explain our procedures, discuss all of your options, and let you experience how comfortable you will be in our office.