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,” is the space within each root that contains 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 endodontic therapy, 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 co-therapists via e-mail or diskette.

In addition to a low dose of radiation, a shielding apron is also used to protect your body.

What about infection?

Infected teeth may be effectively treated through a precise endodontic protocol.

As an office, we adhere to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control, and the American Dental Association. 

What happens after treatment?

When root canal therapy has been completed, a detailed record of your treatment, including pertinent radiographic images, will be sent to your restorative dentist. Your dentist will likely contact you if additional treatment is recommended.  If you have questions, please contact our office or your referring dentist. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic therapy or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, however, we are available at all times to respond.

What new technologies are being used?

Operating Microscopes:

A microscope can be an invaluable resource to the endodontist performing your root canal therapy.  Our office incorporates the microscope as an adjunct to digital radiographs and three dimensional images. Microscopes allow for additional magnification which further enhances treatment success.

3-D Imaging:

Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) demonstrates anatomical features in three dimensions that cannot be achieved through standard intraoral or panoramic films.  CBCT technology is useful in the diagnosis and treatment of complex endodontic cases such as: identifying additional untreated roots/canals, determining the extent of bone pathology (such as abscess information) surrounding the roots and identifying its effect on adjacent structures, and differentiating the type and extent of root resorption present.  The CBCT is also very helpful in pre-surgical treatment planning as well as trauma that may involve both teeth and the surrounding bone.  In short, this technology will significantly enhance your endodontist’s ability to determine appropriate treatment options and prognosis.

*Information taken from “Colleagues for Excellence,” American Association of Endodontists