Endodontics is one of nine official dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). It is the study of the tooth pulp, and the surrounding tissues enclosing the tooth’s roots.
Dental professionals that specialize in endodontics are known as endodontists, and they form an integral component of the general dental health care system. Endodontists have undergone rigorous training for at least two years in which they study root canal procedures and techniques in great detail. While endodontists do perform several different procedures, they focus mainly on root canals. That said, let’s take a detailed look at the scope of what endodontists do for patients.
Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment is the procedure that endodontists perform most often. It’s also referred to as endodontic treatment. It involves repairing and saving an infected tooth, or one that is severely decayed.
Your endodontist will start by administering local anesthesia on the area to be treated to ensure the procedure is as comfortable and painless as possible. After the anesthetic injection, the dental professional will place a rubber dam around the affected tooth in order to isolate it. This device helps to ensure the tooth is clean and dry throughout the procedure.
Root canal treatment entails at least three basic steps depending on your specific situation, and it may take up to three dental appointments for the treatment to be complete. However, endodontists do their best to keep the need for additional appointments to a minimum. Root canal treatment has a success rate of at least 90%.
An endodontist will typically explain every step of the root canal, so you can make an educated decision on whether to undergo the procedure or not. Sometimes, root canal treatment may not cure your particular dental issue effectively. Fortunately, there are several other treatment options.
Dentists will refer you to an endodontist when you have a dental accident, such as during sports. Endodontists have the expertise to handle cases where the tooth has been totally dislodged from the socket, and there’s the risk of your tooth pulp getting damaged. To treat damaged tooth pulp, your dentist can perform a procedure known as apexification. This procedure stimulates bone to develop at the end of the tooth root; this treatment can help you avoid the need to undergo root canal treatment. While many different materials can be used in the apexification procedure, calcium hydroxide is usually the most preferred.
Also worthy of note is that endodontists can help implant artificial teeth after a natural tooth has been removed.
Once you have undergone any of the treatments listed above, it is imperative that you schedule an appointment with an endodontist at least once every six months. This will enable them to monitor your condition and how fast the treated tooth or area is healing. Take note of any unusual developments, and be sure to inform your endodontist about them immediately.