An Endodontist is a dentist who has received 2 additional years of advanced training in the treatment of damaged or diseased nerve (pulp) tissues of the teeth. Endodontics (root canal) means “inside of the tooth” and involves root canals, re-treatments or other nerve tissue therapies of the tooth. Usually general dentists will refer patients in need of a root canal or complicated root canal to an endodontist. Because Paradise Dental has an endodontist on staff, our patients can receive all of their care in our office.
Signs and symptoms of a tooth needing endodontics (root canal)
The most common sign of a tooth needing endodontic (root canal) therapy is an abscess in the gum tissue near the root of a tooth. This often appears like a pimple on the gums that may or may not be draining. Other symptoms of a tooth in need of endodontic (root canal) therapy include:
1. Lingering hot/cold sensitivity
2. Decay spreading into the nerve (pulp) of a tooth.
3. Pain which worsens over time.
4. Spontaneous pain with no stimulus (sometimes waking you out of a sound sleep).
5. Radiographic evidence of an abscess at the end of the tooth root (often times without any symptoms).
A root canal is the nerve chamber inside of the tooth and tooth root. Sometimes, due to either trauma or decay, this nerve chamber becomes exposed to bacteria and becomes infected. This is usually detected in the beginning due to an abscess near the root of the tooth or severe sensitivity to hot or cold food and drink. Root canal therapy is the treatment of this infection, by cleaning out the infected nerve tissue and sealing off the nerve chamber.
When a filling is placed on a tooth, all decay is removed prior to placing the filling. If decay has already reached the nerve chamber, then non-surgical root canal therapy is needed.
Treatment involves the removal of the infected nerve tissue from the inner chamber of the tooth, and then a filling material is placed into the canal. Non-surgical root canals are a lot like dental fillings. After therapy, a permanent crown is placed on top of the tooth to maintain structural needs and protect the tooth from fracture.
Non-surgical root canals are no more uncomfortable than a normal dental filling. Local anesthetic is used to help make the patient comfortable during the procedure.
Most of the time root canals last for the life of a tooth. Unfortunately, there may be rare circumstances where a root canal fails or an infection near the root of the tooth didn’t heal properly. When this happens, the root canal needs to be redone.
Our endodontist opens up the nerve canal to remove the filling material and clean out any remaining infection. The tooth is then resealed with new filling material. After re-treatment, the tooth is observed closely both clinically and radiographically to ensure successful elimination of any infection.
Our in-office CEREC machine allows dental patients to have their crowns generated and placed in one dental appointment. CEREC technology is like having a private dental lab right in our office. High-resolution digital imaging scans the surface of the prepared tooth during the treatment appointment. In the past the patient would have returned home with a temporary crown, waited 2 weeks, and then returned to have the permanent crown fitted. Our CEREC machine lets patients skip having a temporary crown or a 2nd appointment, because the permanent crown is made while they’re still in the treatment chair.
Accidents happen all of the time. When trauma or injury causes a crack or fracture in the tooth, it affects the delicate nerve tissue as well. Even if the crack is not noticeable to the naked eye, small hairline fractures can cause severe pain and sensitivity in the nerve of the tooth. This is usually noticeable when pressure is applied, like during chewing. Your endodontist will check biting sensitivity on the different cusps of your teeth to help identify these areas, so that they may be treated.