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A Guide to Endodontics: What You Should Understand About Root Canal Therapy

What is Endodontics? 

Endodontics is a specialty within the field of dentistry that focuses on the dental pulp, the tissue on the inside of each tooth. Dental pulp contains soft tissue, blood vessels, and nerves that sustain the tooth while it is developing. Permanent teeth no longer need the dental pulp after the tooth has erupted through the gums, but this tissue is susceptible to infection. The goal of endodontic procedures is to treat and prevent infections of the dental pulp in order to save the natural teeth. 

Benefits of Endodontic Treatment 

Endodontic treatment has a variety of benefits: 

  • Pain relief. An infected tooth can be extremely painful, but endodontic treatment can provide relief. 
  • Eliminate infection. Endodontic treatment can treat a tooth infection through the removal of infected tissue and antibiotics. 
  • Prevent infection. Endodontic procedures can also prevent a tooth from becoming infected or reinfected. 
  • Save your natural teeth. The goal of endodontics is to save your natural teeth whenever possible. 

Services Endodontists May Offer 

Endodontist may provide the following services: 

  • Consultation. The first step in endodontic treatment is a consultation to determine what endodontic services you will need to restore your oral health. 
  • Non-surgical root canal therapy. The most common endodontic procedure is root canal therapy. The dental pulp is removed from the inside of the tooth and replaced with a filler material called gutta percha. This removes infected tissue and prevents reinfection. 
  • Non-surgical root canal retreatment. In less common cases, a tooth that has had root canal therapy will need to be retreated. This can happen when all of the dental pulp was not removed and replaced the first time, or if a new root canal forms in a tooth. 
  • Apicoectomy (Endodontic Surgery). This procedure involves surgical entry beneath the gum tissue to access the apex (tip) of the tooth root. Infected tissue is removed and the apex is capped and sealed off to prevent reinfection. 
  • Internal Resorption. Due to a dental trauma of some kind, such an injury to the mouth, a tooth can begin to break down from the inside. This can be treated through a procedure that is similar to root canal therapy. The harmful cells are removed and the tooth is filled with gutta percha. 
  • External Resorption. A similar condition that can result from a dental trauma is external resorption, where the roots of a tooth break down from the outside. The procedure is similar to root canal therapy, with removal of the dental pulp and filling the tooth. Depending on the extent of the damage, the tooth root may need to be reconstructed. 
  • Single Tooth Internal Bleaching. An infection can cause discoloration of the tooth from the inside that can’t be treated with traditional teeth whitening treatment. Internal bleaching whitens the tooth from the inside. 
  • Apexogenesis. When the roots of a child’s teeth don’t develop properly, apexogenesis is a procedure that encourages growth and development of tooth roots. 
  • Apexification. Trauma or a cavity in a young permanent tooth can cause incomplete root development. Calcium hydroxide is introduced into the root canal of a tooth to help it seal effectively. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What material is used as filling in endodontic procedures?

We use gutta percha, a naturally occurring material derived from trees that is similar to rubber or latex. It is biocompatible, safe, and allergen-free. It is treated to be resistant to bacteria in order to prevent infection. 

Is root canal therapy painful? 

Despite the myths, a root canal is no more painful than a routine cavity filling. Local anesthesia is used to numb the tooth before a root canal is performed so that you won’t feel any pain during the procedure. Sedation options are available if you need them. Any discomfort you may feel following the procedure should be manageable with over the counter pain medication. 

How does a tooth become infected?

A tooth infection occurs when bacteria invades the dental pulp. Bacteria can enter the root canal of a tooth due to a cavity, a crack in a tooth, or through the root of a tooth that is damaged in some way. This is why it is important to have cavities filled as soon as they are detected, and to have regular dental exams every 6 months. 

Are endodontic services covered by dental insurance?

Most dental insurance plans will cover endodontics, but the only way to know for sure is to contact your insurance provider. We will work with your insurance to help you get the most out of your coverage. 

Advanced Endodontics, serving all of Central Florida, provides expert root canal services to five convenient locations.

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