Endodontics is the dental specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries involving the dental pulp, tooth root and surrounding tissues. The scope of endodontics also includes vital pulp therapy, root-end filling, nonsurgical treatment of root canal systems and surgical removal of pathologic tissues, among others. The word comes from the Greek words ‘endo’ (inside) and ‘odont’ (tooth).
A dentist who specializes in the field of endodontics is called an endodontist. In addition to finishing a four year dental degree program, they spend two or more years completing advanced training in endodontics. These certified dental specialists are experts at efficiently handling different endodontic problems, including the most complex cases. The most common and well-known endodontic treatment is root canal therapy. When performed in a timely manner, this procedure will save your tooth.
- If you suffer from any of these symptoms, you should see one of our dentists:
- a pus filled pocket (abscess) around one of your teeth.
- a persistent bad odor around one of your teeth
- swollen or tender gums
- sensitivity to hot or cold liquids
Root canal therapy is needed when the pulp of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp, nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function. This treatment saves a tooth that otherwise would die and have to be removed. By contrast, extracting a tooth will cause significant problems for adjacent teeth and the gap must be filled by an implant and crown, which will be more costly. Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although, on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections.
Performed under local anesthesia, root canal treatment begins with the placement of a “dental dam”. This is a small protective sheet used to isolate the tooth and to keep it sanitized and saliva-free during the procedure. Next, the endodontist creates an opening in the tooth crown. With the use of dental instruments, the pulp chamber and root canals are thoroughly cleaned then shaped. This is followed by the placement of a a biocompatible and rubber-like material to seal the root canals. Usually, a temporary filling is placed to close the crown opening. Once the root canal treatment is completed, the patient will see their regular dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed.
There are several other endodontic surgical procedures Just a few are briefly mentioned below:
- Apicoectomy, also referred to as root-end resection.
- Apexification, a procedure to treat and reseal an open apex (end of the root canal)
- Hemisection, cutting of a tooth with two roots to treat the part with infection.
- Tooth root amputation, the removal of one root in a tooth with multiple roots.
Some of the brief descriptions above refer to multiple roots. Many people are unaware that the number of roots per tooth varies, generally from one to three. This is one of the reasons that endodontic treatment can be very complex, and it requires the expertise of those with advanced training.
With decades of experience in performing endodontic treatments, our 7 Day Dental Orange County endodontists have had successes in handling even the most complicated cases. They are adept at performing the latest and most sophisticated procedures using state-of- the-art technology. The use of modern equipment enables us to make the treatment process quicker and more comfortable. Our staff gives every patient comprehensive post-procedure instructions.