Endodontic FAQ

What is endodontics?

Endodontics (Root Canal Therapy) is a branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association involving treatment of the pulp (root canal) and surrounding tissues of the tooth. When you look at your tooth in the mirror, what you see is the crown. The rest of the tooth, the portion hidden beneath the gum line, is called the root. Though the outer portion of the root is a hard tissue called dentin, the inside channel or “root canal” contains a pulp of soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems, can severely damage the pulp. When the pulp is damaged, an endodontic specialist removes the tissue to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform normally.

Does having a root canal hurt?

No. We utilizes the latest techniques in local anesthesia to ensure that you are comfortable during the entire procedure. We also offer various levels of sedation, which will help relax you during treatment.

What happens after treatment?

When your root canal therapy has been completed, a report of your treatment will be sent to your referring dentist. You should contact his or her office for a follow-up restoration within one to two weeks of completion of treatment at our office.

Your referring dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. Grinding teeth such as molars and pre-molars (“bicuspids”) usually require a crown to safely restore the tooth following root canal treatment. If your tooth already has a crown, in many cases, a permanent filling can be placed in the access space, eliminating the need for a new crown. (The existing crown must be deemed sound as well.) Front teeth (“anteriors”) frequently only need a permanent filling to be placed in the access space.

It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, however, we are available at all times to respond.

What new technologies are being used?

3D CT Scan Imaging:

Our practice is one of only a few in the greater Sacramento area utilizing state-of-the-art, small volume cone-beam CT (computed tomography) technology that provides highly accurate, 3-D radiographic images for the diagnosis and treatment of endodontic disease. This allows three-dimensional visualization of teeth, bone, sinuses and surrounding structures, enabling a level of anatomical accuracy and patient care not possible with 2-D technologies (regular dental x-rays). With the addition of cone-beam CT technology to our office, we can offer faster, more accurate, more successful diagnosis and treatment.

Operating Microscopes:

We utilize special operating microscopes. Magnification and fiber optic illumination are helpful in aiding the doctor to see tiny details inside your tooth. Fractures can frequently be detected using a microscope. This allows us to offer a more definitive prognosis for the tooth. Also, teeth which have been traumatized often have canals which have closed up, making them difficult to locate. This condition is referred to as “calcified” canal(s). Using a microscope to find these tiny canals helps ensure a better result with the root canal procedure.

Ultrasonics:

Ultrasonic equipment is used to remove posts, old root canal filling materials and calcific debris from the pulp chamber, which may be blocking the pathway inside the canals.

Nickel-Titanium Instrumentation:

Very flexible nickel-titanium files are used to negotiate curved and calcified canals, and at the same time, limit some of the inherent risks associated with root canal treatment.

Mineral Trioxide Aggregate:

In some cases, such as root perforation or resorption, repairs need to be made to the root structure; MTA (Mineral Trioxide Aggregate) can be used for this purpose. It’s also used to seal the root-end in surgical procedures. MTA is a biocompatible hydrophilic ceramic material, widely accepted in the field of endodontics.