Not everyone needs endodontic treatment. However, if you have severely decayed or damaged teeth, an endodontist can potentially save them.
Our dentists in Omaha, NE, break down the different types of endodontic procedures and how they’re used to treat tooth pain here.
What Is Endodontics?
Endodontics is a branch of dentistry that treats the inside of your teeth. Unlike general dentistry, which offers a range of services, endodontics focuses on treating tooth pain.
An endodontist is a dental specialist who has pursued two or more years of postgraduate training. Endodontists perform different endodontic procedures, specifically root canal therapy.
Types of Endodontic Treatment Options
Root Canal Treatment
An endodontist performs root canal therapy when a tooth’s pulp becomes infected. The dental pulp is a mass of soft connective tissues, nerves, and blood vessels within the center of a tooth.
A root canal may also be necessary if you have deep cavities or recently suffered a dental injury. Root canals are the most common endodontic procedure.
Here’s how the procedure works:
Preparation: The endodontist begins by numbing the tooth and surrounding gums. They can also provide dental sedation if needed. A dental dam is placed over the area to isolate the tooth during the procedure.
Cleaning and shaping the roots: A small hole is drilled into the tooth to open it. Then, filing tools are used to clean out the inflamed pulp chamber and root canals. Endodontists also use tiny instruments to shape the canals, which allows room for the filling material.
Filling the tooth: The root canal is filled with a rubber-like material and heated. Dental cement is also added to seal the canals and prevent future infection. Once the canal is filled, the endodontist places a temporary filling to cover the access hole. You may be prescribed oral antibiotics to kill bacteria.
Adding the crown: At a later appointment, a dental crown may be placed over the tooth to protect it. However, crowns are usually only used on back teeth or teeth with significant damage.
Many practices like Eagle Run West Dental Group perform root canal therapy, while others may send patients to an endodontic specialist. Your dentist may also refer you to an endodontist if your tooth has a complex anatomy.
Endodontic retreatment is necessary when a tooth doesn’t heal after root canal therapy or develops new problems.
A root canal can fail months or even years after treatment. Your tooth may not heal properly for a variety of reasons, including:
Curved or narrow canals weren’t treated during root canal therapy
You have a complicated canal anatomy
The tooth wasn’t effectively sealed and was recontaminated
In these cases, endodontic retreatment is the best option to preserve your tooth. The procedure is similar to a root canal, except it has a few extra steps.
The first visit consists of removing your tooth’s filling and cleaning the root canals.
An antibacterial paste is applied and left in the tooth to kill bacteria. The endodontist will also search for additional canals or complex anatomy that needs treatment. If the canals are blocked or abnormally narrow, they may recommend endodontic surgery.
Once complete, the tooth is re-filled with a temporary filling.
At your second visit, the antibacterial paste is removed and the root canals are cleaned and re-shaped. Then, a new root canal filling is placed and the opening is covered. After retreatment is done, you’ll need to see your regular dentist for a new crown.
Endodontic surgery is performed when a tooth can’t be saved with root canal therapy or a new problem develops after treatment. The most common type of endodontic surgery is an apicoectomy, also known as root-end surgery.
During an apicoectomy, the endodontist removes swollen gum tissue from the end (apex) of the tooth’s root. Apicoectomy may be necessary if an infection develops after a root canal. If your endodontist recommends an apicoectomy it usually means your tooth can’t be saved with standard treatment and the only other alternative is extracting the tooth.
An endodontist may also use endodontic surgery to do the following:
Remove calcium deposits - Endodontic surgery may be needed to remove calcium deposits if they hinder root canal therapy.
Assess tooth roots - When a patient experiences pain, yet nothing shows up on their x-rays, an endodontist may make a small incision to fully examine the tooth. Once they find the problem, they’ll provide the necessary treatment.
When Should You See an Endodontist?
Your dentist may refer you to an endodontist if you’re experiencing the following symptoms:
Pain or dull aching in the jaw
Extreme sensitivity to hot and cold
Severe pain or sensitivity could indicate a problem deep inside your tooth, whereas swelling around the teeth can mean tooth decay. That said, if you think your tooth is in jeopardy, an endodontist can save your teeth and help make them like new.
Endodontic Treatment in Omaha, NE
If you’re experiencing extreme tooth pain and discomfort, contact our West Omaha dentists as soon as possible. While more severe cases may need to see an endodontist, we treat most of our patients at our office.