What is an Endodontist?

Endodontists are dentists who specialize in tooth pain, disease, and infection. They have extra training that helps them diagnose and treat tooth pain and perform root canals, a special procedure designed to save an infected or decayed tooth.

Why See An Endodontist?

Endodontists are specialists in saving teeth, committed to helping you maintain your natural smile for a lifetime. Their advanced training, specialized techniques, and superior technologies mean you get the highest quality care with the best result — saving your natural teeth!

What Does an Endodontist Do?

Endodontists treat problems involving the inside of the tooth, an area known as the “tooth pulp.” It has blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. It can get inflamed or infected because of deep tooth decay, traumatic injury to a tooth, and repeated dental work on a tooth. When that happens, an endodontist is a specialist to see.

The most common procedure endodontists perform is a root canal, a procedure in which they remove the tooth’s nerve and tooth pulp that has become damaged or infected. If left alone, the pulp will become inflamed and painful, and ultimately, the tooth will die. 

Dentists, too, are able to perform root canals, but an endodontist has a lot more experience doing them.

What’s the difference between a dentist and an endodontist?

While all endodontists are dentists, less than three percent of dentists are endodontists. Just like a doctor in any other field, endodontists are specialists because they’ve completed an additional two or more years of training beyond dental school. Their additional training focuses on diagnosing tooth pain and root canal treatment and other procedures relating to the interior of the tooth. In many cases, a diseased tooth can be saved with endodontic treatment. For this reason, endodontists proudly refer to themselves as Specialists in Saving Teeth.

Endodontists Have Advanced Education

To become specialists, endodontists have two to three years of additional education in an advanced specialty program in endodontics after completing four years of dental school. They focus on studying diseases of the dental pulp and how to treat them.

Endodontists Have Specialized Expertise

By limiting their practice to endodontics, endodontists focus exclusively on treatments of the dental pulp. They complete an average of 25 root canal treatments a week, while general dentists typically do two. Endodontists don’t place fillings or clean teeth — they dedicate their time to diagnosing and treating tooth pain. They are skilled specialists in finding the cause of oral and facial pain that has been difficult to diagnose.

Endodontists Are Experts in Pain Managament

Endodontists use specialized techniques to ensure patients are thoroughly comfortable during their treatments. They are experts in administering numbing medications, especially in patients who traditionally have problems getting and staying numb. In addition to treating you comfortably, patients will be relieved of tooth pain after their root canal procedure when the pulp infection or inflammation heals.

Endodontists Use Cutting-Edge Technologies

Endodontists have materials and equipment designed to make your treatment more comfortable and successful. They use a small sheet of plastic or rubber called a dental dam to isolate the tooth during treatment, protecting the rest of your mouth. Digital radiographs and 3-D imaging allows endodontists to take detailed pictures of tiny tooth anatomy to better see the root canals and any related infections. The space inside root canals is smaller than FDR’s ear on the dime! Endodontists use dental operating microscopes to better see inside the root canals to thoroughly treat them..

Reasons to See an Endodontist?

Your general dentist may refer you to an endodontist for a few common reasons:

  • Tooth pain and sensitivity to heat and cold.
  • Bacterial infection Bacteria can get into the pulp of a tooth through small openings created by tooth decay or injury. Inflammation of a bacterial infection of the pulp is the most common reason people see an endodontist.
  • Tooth injury If your tooth gets dislodged from its socket or totally knocked out, an endodontist can place the tooth back in the socket, stabilize it, and then often perform a root canal on it.
  • Chipped or fractured tooth You may need a root canal if a large section of a tooth is missing, exposing the pulp to bacteria.

What to Expect at the Endodontist?

If you see an endodontist, you are most likely they’re to get a root canal. It can be helpful to know what to expect during your visit. 

Before the root canal begins, you will be given a local anesthetic — medicine to numb that part of your mouth so that you won’t feel any pain during the procedure. A dental dam will be placed around the tooth. The endodontist will open the crown (top) of the tooth and remove the pulp. They will then clean, reshape, and enlarge the root canal — the pathway from the pulp to your jawbone — using small files. They may also apply medicine to the area to stop an infection.

The endodontist fills the root canal with a rubber substance that acts as a bandage. Usually, they fill the tooth opening with a temporary crown or filling. After the procedure, you will typically feel mild pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers should help. You will return to the endodontist at a later date to have them remove the temporary crown or filling and fit you with a permanent one.

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