Why Would I Require a Visit to an Endodontist?
While all dentists are trained to perform routine endodontic treatment, there are times when general dentists will refer patients to an endodontist for more specialised endodontic treatment. Endodontists are dental specialists who have completed both general dental education, plus another three years of focused endodontic training.
Endodontists perform a range of routine and complex procedures, including surgery if required. They are also very experienced at diagnosing and treating the origin of oral and facial pain. Root canal treatment is the most common procedure carried out by endodontists.
What is Endodontic Treatment?
Endodontic treatment is the treatment of the inside of the tooth. The word endodontics comes from the Greek words “endo” and “odont” – literally meaning “inside tooth”. But what is actually inside a tooth?
The white outer surface of the tooth is called enamel, and under that is a hard layer called dentine. Below this is soft tissue called pulp which contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. This pulp runs all the way from the crown of the tooth to the tissues encompassing the root. The main function of the pulp is to aid tooth growth and development, but once the tooth has fully matured the surrounding tissue can provide it with the nourishment it requires to survive without pulp.
Why Would I Need an Endodontic Procedure?
When the tooth pulp becomes inflamed or infected endodontic treatment is necessary to relieve suffering and prevent further damage or abcess. Causes for this inflammation or infection could include deep decay, repeated dental procedures, a crack or chip in the tooth, or a knock to the tooth – even if there is no outwardly visible damage.
Some indications of pulp damage are: prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, tooth discolouration, swelling and tenderness in gums – or there may be no symptoms at all.
What Does Endodontic Treatment Involve?
The principal aim for the endodontist is removing the inflamed or infected pulp. The inside of the tooth is then disinfected, shaped, filled and sealed. This is all done under a microscope, which offers very high illumination and magnification of the root canal system. Without this level of magnification it would be impossible to see vertical fractures (this type of fracture cannot be seen on x-rays) or other potential complications.
Afterwards, you will return to your dentist, who will place a permanent restoration on the tooth to protect and restore it to normal function. A year later, the endodontist will review the tooth, and if all has healed well a crown is often recommended for back teeth to restore them to full strength.
Is Endodontic Treatment Painful?
During the treatment the endodontist will do their best to make their patients comfortable through the use of anaesthetics and modern techniques designed to minimise discomfort. It is important to remember that endodontic procedures are carried out to improve the health of the tooth and prevent ongoing pain of toothaches caused by the inflamed or infected pulp.The endodontist will provide advice on how to treat any pain and it can usually be managed with over-the-counter or prescription medicines.
What do I do Next?
To see an endodontist, a referral from your general dentist will be needed and an initial consultation is required with the endodontist. At this appointment your tooth is assessed and the options, costs and potential complications are discussed. If you do not have a referral, please ask your Lumino dentist for one.