You may not have heard the term “endodontist” before being referred to our office by your general dentist. While most people are familiar with what orthodontists and oral surgeons do, endodontics is a lesser-known specialty within the field of dentistry. According to the American Association of Endodontists, fewer than three percent of dentists are endodontists. Here’s what endodontists do and how we can help restore your oral health.
Specialists in Saving Teeth
General dentists provide a wide range of treatments, but their primary focus is the visible portion of the tooth. In contrast, endodontists specialize in diagnosing and treating problems inside the tooth. After completing dental school, we receive two to three more years of education and training focusing on the dental pulp, root canals, and dental pain.
We’re known in the field of dentistry as the specialists in saving teeth. Root canal procedures and other endodontic treatments allow us to save many teeth that have deep decay, extensive damage after dental trauma, or are otherwise compromised. Without such treatments, extraction would be needed. Saving your natural tooth is the ideal outcome.
Diagnosing Tooth Pain
Sometimes when you have a severe toothache, the cause is obvious. Other times, your general dentist may not be able to find the origin of your dental pain and refer you to an endodontist for a diagnosis.
If your tooth pain is caused by a microscopic fracture or crack, it may not be apparent upon visual examination. An endodontic practice has state-of-the-art technology and surgical microscopes that allow us to identify the source of your pain. Once we find the tooth that is causing your dental pain, it can be treated appropriately.
Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment is one of the most common reasons patients are referred to endodontists. There are general dentists who perform root canals for their patients, but the average dentist only performs two root canals a week; the average endodontist performs 25. Because root canals are our speciality, we have the experience, skill, and knowledge to treat complicated cases and provide endodontic retreatment when a tooth that has already had a root canal becomes reinfected or needs additional treatment.
Root canals allow us to preserve a tooth that has infected or inflamed pulp. Although they have a reputation for being painful, most patients find that their root canal treatment is much more comfortable than they expected. Because root canals are often used to treat severe dental pain, it’s common for patients to leave our office feeling better than when they came in.
In addition to root canal treatment, endodontists perform a procedure called apical surgery (also known as endodontic surgery). During this treatment, an infected root tip, or apex, is removed, along with the surrounding tissue. Apical surgery is performed if a tooth has not responded to an initial root canal or endodontic retreatment; it may also be used for patients who are not candidates for a root canal treatment.