Those who practice endodontics are a category of dentists, just as a cardiologist is a doctor. It is common to see a dentist and an endodontist working together in the same practice.
An endodontist specializes in root canal therapy and finding and treating oral and dental pain. Those who practice endodontics also learns how to administer anesthesia and numbing agents. Endodontists can perform other procedures to stop tooth pain, besides root canals. Ultimately, the goal of an endodontist is to preserve patients’ natural teeth.
What Is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a fairly common dental procedure. On the outside of a tooth is enamel, and, just below the enamel, is a layer of dentin. Underneath the dentin lies the pulp, a vascularized tissue with nerves that helps ground the tooth during development. A mature tooth can survive without pulp because other tissues around the tooth can provide proper nourishment. Pulp extends from the bottom of a tooth’s crown (top part) to the roots.
Before beginning the procedure, the endodontist will numb with a local anesthetic and isolate the tooth with a dental dam. After numbing the tooth, the endodontist will open the crown and use small tools to remove the pulp. After removing the pulp, the endodontist shapes the opening. Next, the endodontist will fill the root canal with a rubbery material and close the crown with a temporary filling. Upon the next appointment, the dentist will remove the temporary filling by putting something over the hole in the tooth to protect and restore full function. This is to place a post that provides structural support which it otherwise lacks.
This procedure is almost pain-free due to modern anesthesia and techniques. It also tends to be cheaper than a tooth extraction. Additionally, most dental insurance plans have some form of coverage for endodontic treatments. The procedure also has appealing visual effects. It allows the tooth to retain a natural appearance while functioning normally.
Although there are no guarantees, root canal therapy has a high success rate! After a root canal procedure, an endodontist will want to examine the tooth periodically to ensure that it has healed properly. If a root canal or endodontic therapy is unsuccessful or fails, an endodontist will discuss other alternatives with you.
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