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 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.
Should I be worried about x-rays?
No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontic treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system called digital radiography. This produces radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of conventional low-dose dental x-ray machinery. These digital images can be easily saved and sent to your referring dentist via email.
IS IT SAFE TO HAVE ROOT CANAL TREATMENT?
Your safety and the safety of our doctors and staff are of utmost importance. We adhere to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA).
This includes the use of autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection. All of our treatment spaces are treated with UV sterilization exactly as in hospital operating rooms. Our office is equipped with high-capacity fine particle HEPA filtration to immediately clear any airborne pathogens. If you have any questions about our safety protocols, we are happy to address them.
What happens after root canal treatment?
After your treatment, we will send a complete report of your treatment to your dentist and we are happy to send it to you as well. You will also receive post-treatment instructions, which includes your endodontist’s emergency contact information. Occasionally, we request a follow-up examination to evaluate your healing is progressing. If this is needed, we will schedule this appointment when you check out from your treatment.
When endodontic treatment has been completed, the root canal system is permanently sealed. However, the outer surface is sealed with a temporary restoration. To protect your tooth against fracture and decay, your dentist must follow up with a core build-up and a permanent restoration, which is usually a crown. Please call your referring dentist for an appointment within a few weeks of your root canal treatment to have the tooth permanently restored.
It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, however, please call us immediately using the emergency contact information provided.
What new technologies are being used?
The use of advanced technologies helps our endodontists provide the best possible care. These include:
Cone beam computer tomography (CBCT)
Similar to medical “CT” scans, these images allow us to visualize your tooth and jaw in 3-D. However, instead of hundreds of radiation impulses to capture the 3-D image as in CT scans, our machine makes one pulse that is reconfigured to produce a 3-D image, which decreases radiation by approximately 90%.
The advantages of this technology, the most important of which is a greatly improved success rate for your endodontic, have led to our use of CBCTs as part of our standard of care for all patients.
We use special microscopes with magnification and fiber optic illumination that help our doctors see tiny details inside your tooth. A small video camera on the operating microscope can record images of your tooth to further document the doctor’s findings.