What is endodontics?
Endodontics is a branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association involving diagnosis and 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, trauma, 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 inflammation and infection. 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 endodontic treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, which 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 co-therapists via e-mail or diskette. We also limit the number of x-rays taken by using measuring devices, called apex locators, that substitute for the multiple x-rays we used to have to take. The sum of your exposure will be less than that you would receive outdoors during an outing.
What about infection control?
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 eliminate any risk of infection.
What happens after treatment?
When your root canal therapy has been completed, original radiographs and a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You may need to contact the office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide 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. Your post operative instructions will have contact numbers on it.
What new technologies are being used?
In addition to digital radiography, we utilize special operating microscopes. Magnification and fiber optic illumination are helpful in aiding the doctor to see tiny details inside your tooth. This tool allows treatment to be completed more thoroughly and efficiently. Identifying all of the internal anatomy is the basic principal for successful endodontic therapy.
Electric Apex Locators:
We use an electric apex locator to minimize the number of x-rays needed to complete root canal treatment. In certain cases electric apex locators can minimize the number of x-rays needed to complete root canal treatment. The accuracy the apex locator provides further advances the prognosis of the treatment.
Ultrasonic instruments can be valuable to remove or loosen obstructions that would otherwise prevent reliable endodontic therapy. Once the anatomy is identified, the ultrasonic tip can help create a clear path to the root tip and success.