What is endodontics?
Endodontics is the specialty 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 and restoration, the tooth continues to perform normally.
Is root canal treatment painful?
Despite a colorful reputation, root canal treatment itself should not be painful. The pain that most people associate with root canal treatment is actually the pain that they experience prior to treatment. Our doctors know that with proper anesthesia, having root canal treatment should be a relatively painless procedure, very similar to having a filling.
Are there any alternatives to root canal treatment?
Yes. However, there are only two alternatives, neither of which is advisable in most cases. One option is to ignore the problem and do nothing. In cases of active infection, choosing this option may result is worsening of the condition and eventual loss of the tooth. The second option is to extract the tooth. This would remove the infection, but should you choose to replace the missing tooth , the process could be costly and time consuming.
I'm worried about x-rays. Should I be?
No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontic treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography that reduces 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 cotherapists. For more information, research Carestream Dental Imaging on the web at www.carestreamdental.com.
Speaking of x-rays, I brought one with me. Why do you need to take another one?
We need to be sure that the x-ray shows the appropriate parts of the tooth, and that there have been no changes to the infected area. Sometimes, infections can worsen very quickly. It is best to diagnose a tooth based on how it presents on the day of your treatment, not how it was yesterday or last week.
What about infection control?
We adhere to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association. We utilize autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection.
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/her 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.
Will I be able to go back to work after my appointment?
Your root canal treatment appointment should be very similar to having a filling done at your family dentist’s office. We recommend that you make plans according to how you normally feel after dental treatment. Your mouth will likely be numb, so we don’t recommend scheduling speaking engagements.
What new technologies are being used?
In addition to digital radiography, we utilize special operating microscopes. These instruments help magnify and illuminate your tooth during treatment, to ensure complete removal of infected material. Also, a tiny video camera on the operating microscope can record images of your tooth to further document the doctor’s findings.
Electronic Apex Locators:
These devices allow for the electronic measurement of root canals, thereby reducing the need to take multiple x-rays during treatment. This also reduces the time needed to complete the procedure.
These devices, particularly useful during microscope endodontics, aid in the removal of canal obstructions such as small pins and posts in cases of root canal retreatment. Additionally, they can be used for locating hidden canals that are sometimes missed during conventional root canal treatment.
Rubber Dam (Dental Dam):
This is the light weight mask placed during root canal treatment to isolate your tooth. It is used to give our doctors a clear field for optimum results.
Cone Beam Computed Tomography:
Occasionally a more detailed study of your tooth/jaw may be needed. Cone Bream Computed Technology is available if your case requires it.
Will root canal treatment eliminate all dental pain?
No. It will eliminate pain from a () pulp inside a tooth. Dental pain may be often caused by other factors — gum disease, problems with the way that your teeth fit together (malocclusion), clinching or grinding your teeth, sinnusitis or other reasons. Our endodontists may rule out the need for a root canal filling and recommend different treatment, if indicated.
What dental insurance plans do you accept?
Dental insurance plans we are contracted with:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama
- Delta Dental
- Carecredit: apply online at www.carecredit.com
Please note: We are not medicaid providers. Endodontic treatment is not covered by medical insurance.