A general dentist typically refers a patient to an endodontist for problematic cases. Your dentist, after reviewing your x-rays and/or starting the root canal treatment, has likely decided your needs would best be met by referring you to an endodontist due to the complexity of your particular treatment.
An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in saving teeth through endodontic procedures, such as root canal treatment. Dr. Taito, our Board Eligible Endodontist, is an expert in performing root canal treatment and diagnosing and treating tooth pain. Endodontists have extensive training in these areas, including two additional years of education beyond dental school.
Endodontic treatment is critical to maintaining your oral and overall health. Often, the only alternative to endodontic treatment is tooth extraction. Missing teeth can affect your ability to bite and chew, cause other teeth to shift and have a negative impact on your overall health.
What is Endodontic Treatment?
Endodontic treatment is the removal of the tooth's pulp, a small, thread-like tissue in the center of the tooth. Once the damaged, diseased or dead pulp is removed, the remaining space is cleaned, shaped and filled. This procedure seals off the root canal. Years ago, teeth with diseased or injured pulps were removed. Today, root canal treatment saves many teeth that would otherwise be lost.
The most common causes of pulp damage or death are:
A cracked tooth
A deep cavity
An injury to a tooth, such as a severe knock to the tooth, either recent or in the past
Once the pulp is infected or dead, if left untreated, pus can build up at the root tip in the jawbone, forming an abscess. An abscess can destroy the bone surrounding the tooth and cause pain.
Is Root Canal Therapy Painful?
Root canal treatment usually involves no more discomfort than a routine filling appointment. In fact, most endodontic treatment relieves pain. Most stories of painful root canals are a carryover from the days before modern techniques and effective anesthetics were available.
Are there any Alternatives to Treatment?
Once the dental pulp is diseased, the only alternative to root canal therapy is extraction. Replacing the tooth with a bridge, implant or partial denture is generally more costly than the root canal treatment and crown.
When a tooth is removed and not replaced, the teeth around it may shift. This can make biting and chewing difficult and may make it harder to clean your teeth. Areas that are not cleaned well are more likely to get gum disease. Root canal treatment can prevent these problems by saving your natural tooth.
How Long will the Restored Tooth Last?
Your treated and restored tooth can last a lifetime with proper care. Because tooth decay can still occur in treated teeth, good oral hygiene and regular dental exams are necessary to prevent further problems.
Can all Teeth be Saved?
Most teeth can be saved with endodontic treatment. Occasionally, a tooth cannot be saved because the root canals are not accessible, the root is severely fractured, the tooth doesn't have adequate bone support, or the tooth cannot be restored. However, advances in endodontics are making it possible to save teeth that even a few years ago would have been lost.
What to Expect
During your first visit, Dr. Taito will review your complete medical and dental history and evaluate the area in question. Testing will be performed to check the vitality of the tooth as well as the teeth in front and back of it. Digital radiographs may also be taken to observe the health of the teeth. Dr. Taito will review the findings and discuss your the treatment options. During the consultation, Dr. Taito welcomes the opportunity to educate his patients and address any questions and concerns.