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. Bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems and 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 and places a filling material into the prepared canal space. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform normally.
I’m worried about x-rays. Should I be?
No. 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. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to dentists and other specialists via e-mail.
Will the root canal be painful?
We make every effort to make the root canal a comfortable and even enjoyable experience.
When teeth have intense inflammation present they can become more difficult to anesthetize. However, we have methods of making sure the anesthetic is delivered as close as possible to the tooth resulting in complete numbness in the area. You can be assured no treatment will be performed without profound anesthesia.
The indication for root canal therapy is often an excruciating tooth ache. In contrast, the treatment of that condition, known as root canal therapy, is pain relieving! So allow us to put you at ease, and take care of your endodontic needs painlessly.
Lastly, carefully weigh your options. The most common alternative to having a root canal performed is extraction (i.e. having your tooth pulled). In carefully controlled clinical studies, patients who have had their tooth extracted report more pain and pressure during the extraction and more post-operative pain and complications after extraction than patients who have had root canal therapy performed instead. With root canal therapy you will still have your natural tooth.
How many appointments will it take?
Usually a 30 minute consult is performed to determine whether or not treatment is indicated and to form a diagnosis. Depending on the diagnosis and difficulty level of your tooth it may take 1-2 appointments lasting 1 to 1.5 hours each.
Highly infected teeth are often fully instrumented on a first visit and have an anti-bacterial paste placed within the tooth to allow thorough disinfection prior to filling the root canal on the second, shorter visit. This second-level disinfection process helps insure success, and minimizes the likelihood that any further treatment will be needed.
Sometimes treatment can be performed on the same day as the consult.
I am terrified of the dentist, what can you offer at your office to ease my fears?
First, recognize that you are not alone in your fear. Many people fear the idea of root canal therapy since they don’t know exactly what to expect or have heard negative commentary.
The indication for root canal therapy is often an excruciating tooth ache. In contrast, the treatment of that condition, known as root canal therapy, is pain relieving! So allow us to put you at ease, and take care of your endodontic needs painlessly, with precision and compassion.
We offer nitrous sedation (laughing gas) which can help to reduce anxiety and provide a level of relaxation. The expense is minimal, and if it means the difference between peace and comfort instead of anxiety and fear for you, we recommend it.
We also offer oral conscious sedation, which is a deeper form a sedation taken by mouth that will help to relax you but you will not be completely asleep. This requires an evaluation appointment prior to your treatment and a driver must accompany you if you are interested in this option.
What is the prognosis that the root canal will be successful?
Root canal treatment has a very high level of success. Each tooth presents differently and many factors can pay into determining a specific tooth’s prognosis, but in general root canals are successful 85-95% of the time.
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 office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. 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.
What new technologies are being used?
We utilize operating microscopes. Magnification and fiber optic illumination are helpful in aiding the doctor to see tiny details inside your tooth. Also, a tiny video camera on the operating microscope can record images of your tooth to further document the doctor’s findings.
These are devices used to aid in removal of posts, separated instruments, locating canals, vibrating irrigation solutions which disinfect the canal into irregularities within the canal system.
These modern electronic devices are used by your endodontist to measure the lengths of your tooth’s roots. Their use saves both time and minimizes the number of needed x-rays
These are flexible files which allow instrumentation of curved canal and also enable effective and efficient debris removal resulting in faster treatment procedures.
These images immediately appear on the monitor and are at radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of already low dose conventional dental x-ray machinery. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to dentists and other specialists via e-mail.
Cone Beam CT Scanner
Our practice utilizes state-of-the-art, small volume cone-beam CT (computed tomography) technology that provides highly accurate, 3-D radiographic images for the diagnosis, planning and treatment of endodontic disease. This allows three-dimensional visualization of teeth, bone, sinuses and surrounding structures with minimal radiation to the patient, enabling a level of anatomical accuracy and patient care not possible with 2-D technologies (regular dental x-rays).
How much will the root canal cost?
The cost of a root canal can vary depending on the difficulty level and which tooth is in need of treatment. We can give you an accurate estimate after your consult with the doctor. Our fees and usual and customary to other fees in the area. Please contact our office for more information.
In general, endodontic treatment is much less expensive than tooth removal and replacement with an artificial tooth.
Please ask our staff if you have any questions.