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What is Endodontics?
What is an Endodontist and what do they do?

Endodontists are dentists who specialize in maintaining teeth through root canal therapy. These procedures involve the tissues of the inside of teeth (called the dental pulp) as well as the surrounding tissues of the root (called the periapex).  The word "endodontic" comes from "endo" meaning inside and "odont" meaning tooth.  


All dentists are trained in diagnosis and endodontic therapy, however, some teeth can be especially difficult to diagnose and treat.  This is why you may have been referred to an endodontic specialist.


In addition to four years of dental school, Canadian trained endodontists receive three years of advanced education in this type of treatment. They study root canal techniques and procedures in greater depth in order to diagnosis and treat more difficult cases.


This video communicates why general dentists refer their patients to endodontists


What is a root canal treatment?

Local anesthetic will be given.  A sheet of latex called the "rubber dam" (we've got non-latex ones too!) will be placed around the tooth to isolate it, keeping it clean and dry during treatment.  The treatment consists of a few basic steps where the tooth is cleaned, disinfected, dried, and a filling is placed that extends the full length of the root. Quite often the tooth will be temporized after your treatment, allowing your family dentist the opportunity to place the final filling.


The number of visits will depend on your particular case.  Many times only one visit is required however there are instances where two or even three visits are needed to complete treatment. In any case, it depends on the degree of infection/inflammation and degree of treatment difficulty.  Quality of treatment will always be given the utmost priority.


What is the success rate of a root canal treatment?

There are no guarantees in life, but root canal or endodontic therapy has a very high degree of success. We will discuss with you the chances of success before any endodontic procedure to help you make an informed decision.  If a root canal or endodontic therapy is unsuccessful, you may still have options to save your tooth!


This video describes root canal therapy.

Endodontists diagnose and treat pain.

Oral pain such as toothaches or cracked / fractured teeth can often be difficult to pinpoint.  Because of the vast network of nerves in the mouth, the pain of a damaged or diseased tooth often is felt in another tooth and/or in the head, neck, or ear. An endodontist is a specialist in diagnosing and treating this type of pain.



Endodontists treat traumatic injuries.

Pulp damage is sometimes caused by trauma to the mouth, and endodontists specialize in treating these traumatic injuries. For example, a blow to a child's permanent tooth that is not fully developed can cause the root to stop growing. A procedure called apexification can seal the end of the root which makes it possible to then save the tooth through a root canal procedure. An endodontist is specially trained in procedures for replanting teeth that have been knocked out of their sockets.


Will I need to return to your office for additional visits?

Once endodontic therapy is completed, your tooth should be examined periodically, usually every 6 - 12 months.  This allows us to ensure that the tooth has healed or is healing properly.  This re-assessment may be done by your family dentist, or you may be asked to return to our office for direct evaluation.  Since an abscess may take 2 or more years to heal, the tooth should be re-evaluated for at least a few years after treatment.



What is retreatment or surgery (apicoectomy)?

Occasionally, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment may have peristent disease or pain despite the therapy. Although rare, sometimes a tooth initially responds well to root canal therapy but becomes painful or diseased months or years later. When either of these situations occur, the tooth often can be maintained with a second endodontic treatment.

A root canal retreatment procedure removes the orignial root filling material and the tooth is re-disinfected and re-filled.

A root canal surgery (apicoectomy) involves making an incision in the gum to directly address the end of the root.


This video link describes endodontic retreatment.