is a dental professional who focuses on the care and treatment of the dental pulp (the soft material at the center of the tooth that contains the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues). The main goal of an endodontist is to save a natural tooth from needing to be pulled out (extracted) as a result of infection or injury.
An endodontist is an expert in the field of endodontics, a term which simply means "inside the tooth."
A general dentist will typically refer a patient to an endodontist in cases when damage to the dental pulp and surrounding tissue is severe or a root canal procedure is beyond the scope of the general dentist's area of expertise.
What is dental pulp and why is it important?
Dental pulp is the "live" part of the tooth that serves the following three functions:
||Registers pain and temperature (hot and cold) through the nerves.
||Regenerates dentin, the hard bone-like structure that surrounds the pulp and protects the tooth.
||Nourishes the tooth through the blood vessels.
Although important, a tooth can still function normally if the pulp is removed due to severe infection or injury.
What is a root canal procedure?
A root canal is one of the most common treatments a general dentist or endodontist performs. In a root canal procedure, the endodontist removes damaged pulp from the root canal (the natural cavity inside the tooth that contains the pulp). This saves the root from being extracted and allows it to remain functional.
Although root canals are known for being extremely painful, modern dentistry allows for high levels of comfort during most sedation surgery procedures. A root canal is a sedation surgery, which means the patient is put under general anesthesia and is asleep during the procedure.
The endodontist places a rubber sheet called a rubber dam over the tooth and drills a hole into the root canal.
The endodonist removes the infected pulp and cleans the tooth, removing all bacteria. In most cases, the endodonist then seals the tooth with a semi-permanent filling to be replaced with a permanent filling or crown at a follow-up appointment.
Most root canals last for the life of the tooth without requiring further treatment.
What other procedures does an endodontist perform?
Endodontists are skilled in a range of techniques to treat and remove damaged pulp including vital pulp therapy, which helps aid in the regeneration of pulp and dentin. An endodontist also performs full or partial extractions and surgically installs dental implants (an authentic-looking artificial tooth that is permanently placed in the jaw or gum). An endodontist can also bleach teeth to even out discoloration caused by infection or injury.
What are signs that I may need a root canal?
Visit your general dentist immediately if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
||Pain and swelling in your tooth or gums.
||Pain or extreme sensitivity to temperature (hot or cold) or touch.
||Puss-like drainage in your mouth.
||Swelling in the lymph gland under your jaw.
These are typically signs of an infection that require immediate treatment by your general dentist or an endodontist.
Your general dentist will typically refer you to an endodontist in your provider network. Need to find a general dentist near you? At SmileGeneration.com, you can find qualified general dentists in your area, read patient reviews, browse staff bios, and request your first appointment online in minutes!