Endodontic FAQ

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.

I’m worried about x-rays. Should I be?

No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontics treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, that produces 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 via e-mail or diskette. For more information visit www.carestreamdental.com.

What about infection?

Again, there’s no need for concern. 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 minimize 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 or her office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion of treatment at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, however, we are available at all times to respond.

What new technologies are being used?

Operating Microscopes:

We utilize special operating microscopes for every procedure. Magnification and fiber optic illumination are helpful in aiding the doctor to see tiny details inside your tooth. The doctors trained extensively in residency using these microscopes and have performed thousands of procedures with the aid of magnification.

Digital Radiography:

A non-film way to image the teeth which utilizes a far smaller dose of x-rays for the safety of our patients. This allows us to take more images if necessary with a lower overall exposure than in years past.

Apex Locators:

Apex locators utilize electrical resistance to determine the length of the root canals. These devices allow us to take fewer x-rays than would be necessary without them.

Ultrasonic Instumentation:

These instruments are particularly useful during endodontic microsurgery. They allow us to remove much less bone during surgery and allow for more accurate preparations at the tip of the root for retro-fillings than the older rotary instruments that were used.