Who performs endodontic treatment?
All dentists, including your general dentist, receive some endodontic training while in dental school. Often times a general dentist will refer patients needing root canal therapy to an endodontist.
What is an endodontist?
Endodontists are dentists who specialize in treating the soft inner tissue of your tooth’s roots. After they complete dental school, they attend another program for two or three more years. This program is an advanced specialty education in diagnosis and root canal treatment. Because they limit their practices to endodontics, they treat these types of problems every day. They use their special training and experience in treating difficult cases, such as teeth with narrow or blocked canals, or unusual anatomy in order to provide you with the very best care.
Why is there a need for endodontic or root canal treatment?
Sometimes the pulp or nerve tissue inside your tooth becomes inflamed or infected. This can be caused by deep decay, the trauma of repeated dental procedures on the tooth, a crack or chip in the tooth or a blow to the tooth.
What are the signs of needing a root canal?
Signs to look for include prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, pain while chewing, spontaneous pain, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums. Sometimes there are no symptoms except what can be seen on the x-ray.
How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?
The endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp tissue, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the tooth, and then fills and seals the space. Afterwards you return to your general dentist who will place a crown or some other type of final restoration on the tooth to protect it and restore it to full function.
Will I feel pain during or after the procedure?
While many patients experience great pain before seeing the endodontist, most report that the pain is relieved by the treatment they receive. For the first few days after treatment, the tooth may be sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. Usually this discomfort can be relieved with over the counter medications or in special cases, prescription medications. At the end of your appointment, you will receive written instructions to tell you how to care for your tooth at home.
Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is completed. However, if you have severe pain or pressure or pain that lasts more than a few days, call your endodontist.
What can I eat and when?
You may eat anything you want but due to the normal soreness present from treatment, you will probably want to chew on the opposite side for 24-48 hours. If the discomfort persists after a few days, contact our office for additional information.
How can the tooth hurt if the nerve is gone?
The tissue that supports the tooth is still alive so the pain comes from infection or inflammation in the bone and supporting ligament along the outside of the tooth. Medication can control this and usually time will heal it.
When am I finished?
Come root canals are finished in one visit and others may need two or more visits due to the amount of infection present. If more treatment is needed on the tooth, you will be advised to make another appointment within a few weeks.
What causes a tooth to need to be retreated?
New decay, new trauma or a loose, cracked or broken filling can cause the tooth to be re-contaminated. In some cases, the endodontist may discover very narrow or curved canals that could not be treated during the initial procedure. Sometimes a treated tooth may need endodontic surgery to be saved.
What should I do in case of a dental emergency?
If you are experiencing a dental emergency, please contact our office right away at 512-948-7624. At the end of your treatment you will be given a phone numbers for Dr. Davis. If it is after hours, our voice mail system can also provide you with the phone number of your doctor and they will return your call as soon as possible.
We also invite you to access the American Association of Endodontists. The section “for the patient” contains such topics as patient information, about root canal treatment, tooth pain guide, myths about root canals, and a tooth illustration detailing the anatomy of a tooth and surrounding tissues. This site is a great resource for basic information.