What is Endodontics?
Endodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on issues that arise within the dental pulp, including those affecting the nerve tissue. Endodontic surgical procedures help to repair infected, diseased or injured teeth. This dental specialty helps to alleviate chronic tooth pain while allowing the patient to retain his or her natural smile.
What are the different types of endodontic procedures?
The various types of endodontic procedures include:
- Root canal therapy
- Endodontic retreatment (repeat root canal treatment)
- Root-End Resection (apicoectomy)
The type of procedure used depends on the extent of damage to the diseased tooth. An endodontist will use the treatment best suited to saving the tooth and avoiding the need for extraction.
When are endodontic procedures needed?
Endodontic procedures are required when the soft tissue inside the tooth becomes infected, cracked, chipped or decayed. If a tooth that is inflamed or infected is left untreated, it can lead to chronic pain or an abscess. Symptoms to be aware of include pain, sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness while chewing, swelling and discoloration of the infected tooth. If any of these symptoms occur, an endodontic procedure is typically required to rectify the issue.
How is an endodontic procedure performed?
Root canal therapy by an endodontist is most commonly performed to save the natural tooth. The top of the tooth is opened and the infected tissue in the root canal is cleaned out and reshaped. The canal is then filled with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha, along with an adhesive cement, to ensure the complete sealing of the root canal. A temporary filling is used to close the opening and then later removed. The procedure is completed with the placement of a crown or other type of restoration to help protect the tooth. In some cases, a post may be needed to hold the restoration in place. If a root canal can not be used, a procedure known as an apicoectomy is recommended. The infected tooth is exposed by an incision through the gum tissue. The damaged tissue is removed and a root-end filling is inserted to prevent infection. The bone naturally heals around the root and will restore itself to full function within a few months.
What can be expected after an endodontic procedure?
After an endodontic procedure, pain and discomfort at the site of surgery are to be expected. Proper oral hygiene practices such as thorough brushing, daily flossing and regular dental check-ups are necessary to prevent further problems. Directly after the procedure, you should not bite or chew using the treated tooth until it is fully healed. Endodontic procedures are quite successful for the most part. Sometimes, however, the affected tooth may become diseased again after treatment. The tooth may have failed to heal properly or a new infection may have occurred. If the tooth becomes infected again, the procedure will be repeated to help save the natural tooth.