What is endodontics?
Endodontics is a specialty 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" contains the dental pulp. The pulp tissue primarily consists of blood vessels, nerves and lymphatic vessels. 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 this happens, root canal treatment may be used to remove the diseased pulp. This procedure ultimately saves the tooth by preventing further infection and/or inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform and function normally.
What does it mean to be a Board Certified endodontist?
A Board Certified endodontist is one who has satisfied all requirements of the certification process by the American Board of Endodontics. Board Certification requires the completion of a three part examination process including a written examination, a case history portfolio review, and an oral examination. This process typically takes several years to achieve and requires many years of hard work and deep commitment to professional excellence. Board Certification is the highest level of achievement in endodontics. Diplomate status is given to endodontists who have demonstrated diagnostic skill, clinical proficiency, and professional judgment of a level that ensures the highest quality of care for patients.
I'm worried about x-rays. Should I be?
No. While x-rays will be necessary during and prior to your endodontic treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, which produces radiation levels significantly lower than those of already low dose conventional dental x-ray. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to your dentist via e-mail, diskette, or mail.
What about infection?
Again, there is 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 or cross contamination.
What happens after treatment?
When your root canal treatment has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your general dentist. You should contact your dentist’s office for a follow-up restoration within four to six weeks of completion at our office. Your general dentist will decide on 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.
What new technologies are being used?
In addition to digital radiography, we utilize surgical operating microscopes. Enhanced magnification and fiber optic illumination are essential in aiding the doctor to see tiny details inside your tooth. Also, a tiny video camera on the operating microscope can record images of your tooth to further document the doctor's findings.
An apex locator is used in concert with digital radiography. This device allows us to more accurately determine the anatomy and length of the root canal system being treated.
Ultrasonic instrumentation enables us to consistently and predictably remove potential obstructions within your root canal system such as calcified deposits, restorative pins and posts, and previously separated instruments.