What is an endodontist?
An endodontist is a dentist who specialises in saving teeth by performing root canal therapy. Your dentist is referring you to an endodontist because of his or her personal concern that you receive the highest quality care possible. An endodontist is a valuable partner on your general dentist’s team of trusted experts.
A dentist becomes an endodontist by completing two or more years of advanced endodontic training in addition to dental school. An endodontist’s entire training focuses on root canals, and therefore he or she is an expert at managing and relieving tooth pain, diagnosing oral and facial pain, treating traumatic injuries, and performing root canal therapy quickly and comfortably.
What is endodontics?
Endodontics is the branch of dentistry which is concerned with the morphology, physiology and pathology of the human dental pulp and periradicular tissues. Its study and practice encompass the basic clinical sciences including biology of the normal pulp; the etiology, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions.
Bacteria associated with decay, deep restorations, fractures, trauma or periodontal disease may irreversibly damage the pulp. In order to preserve a tooth, in which this has occurred, it is necessary to remove the injured, infected tissue. This procedure is known as root canal therapy.
Will it hurt?
In spite of what you may have heard, modern root canal treatment is similar to having a filling and can be completed in one or two appointments. Following treatment, you’ll feel some tenderness in the tooth or in your jaw. Over-the-counter pain medication will often resolve these temporary symptoms. You can expect a comfortable experience during your appointment.
Do I need a consultation first?
Your first appointment will generally be a consultation where a throrough examination of your presenting problem will be carried out to diagnose orofacial pain, pulpal injury and to determine if the tooth in question is a good candidate for endodontic therapy.
A full discussion will then take place regarding your diagnosis, treatment options and costs.
Sometimes treatments can be initiated on the first visit depending on the treatment required and the information we have prior to your visit.
Will my insurance cover the cost?
Unfortunately at this stage in New Zealand the cost of full endodontic treatment is not covered however it is worth checking with your insurance company as some cover more dental treatments than others.
My old root filling is failing, can I get it redone?
Yes sometimes endodontic treatments are not successful for a multitude of reasons and have to be redone.
A careful assessment will be made of your tooth to see if retreatment is the best option for you. Sometimes teeth have other more significant problems that may have a significant impact on the success of the retreatment and in these cases the tooth may have to be removed.
Do I need a crown?
Most endodontically treated posterior teeth require restoration with a crown on completion of treatment. In some instances crown placement is delayed to assess the success of the endodontic treatment. Covering the tooth with a cast restoration significantly increases its long term survival.
If the tooth is already restored with a crown prior to treatment then it maybe possible to treat the tooth through the existing restoration.
What is endodontic surgery?
Occasionally, a nonsurgical root canal procedure alone cannot save your tooth and your endodontist will recommend surgery.
There are many surgical procedures that can be performed to save a tooth. The most common is called an apicoectomy, or root-end resection, which is occasionally needed when inflammation or infection persists in the bony area around the end of your tooth after a root canal procedure. In this microsurgical procedure, the endodontist opens the gum tissue near the tooth to see the underlying bone and to remove any inflamed or infected tissue. The very end of the root is also removed. A small filling may be placed to seal the end of the root canal and few stitches or sutures are placed to help the tissue heal. Over a period of months, the bone heals around the end of the root. Local anesthetics make the procedure comfortable, and most patients return to their normal activities the next day. Postsurgical discomfort is generally mild.
How much will it cost?
Treatment costs vary depending on the complexity of the treatment required and the restoration.
You will be given an estimate of the treatment cost before you start treatment.
How successful is endodontic treatment?
Saving your natural tooth when possible has always got to be the best option. Endodontically treated teeth that are well restored have a good survival rate and may last a life time.
Why can't my dentist do it?
While most endodontic treatment is carried out by your dentist an endodontist has two or three years of extra training and are often sent the difficult and complex cases to diagnose and treat.