Endodontic Therapy (Root Canal Treatment)
If you have never had endodontic therapy (also known as "root canal treatment"), or if it's been many years since your last procedure, you may have some questions or outdated expectations.
Saving Teeth with Advanced Decay
Root canal, or endodontic therapy is performed to save a tooth when its soft inner tissue, called the pulp, becomes infected or damaged.
Saving a tooth this way is better for your health than extraction, and is less costly than replacing the missing tooth.
Dental Abscess and Advanced Root Canal Infection
When infection has spread from the root into surrounding jawbone or gum tissue, eliminating the source of infection by endodontic treatment is particularly important. Infection surrounding the tooth may result in a localized abscess or spreading of bacterial infection within the mouth. Dentists can provide the special treatments needed to cure these potentially serious problems.
Left unchecked, infection starting in a tooth can cause serious systemic infection, or even illness requiring hospitalization. Aggressive bacterial infections starting in a tooth can literally be fatal if untreated or inadequately treated. Fortunately modern antibiotics and endodontic care have made fatalities from infected teeth a rare occurrence in developed countries.
Is Endodontic Treatment Effective?
YES !!! Routine endodontic therapy is among the most effective procedures in modern dental or medical practice. Research studies of conventional endodontic therapy document success rates of about 95%. The keys to success are accurate diagnosis, selection of appropriate cases for treatment, use of proper endodontic techniques, along with meticulous attention to detail and sterility during treatment.
Following proper endodontic therapy and restoration, treated teeth typically last a lifetime.
In the rare instances when endodontic treatment is not successful, the tooth can often be retreated successfully. Endodontic re-treatment can be done using conventional methods.
In some unusual cases re-treatment may require a local, comfortable miniature surgical treatment of the tooth's root tip and surrounding tissue for a successful result. This is known as periapical surgery. New materials and methods have enhanced the results of this type of advanced dental care. Periapical surgery is usually performed by dentists with specialty training in endodontics, oral surgery, or periodontics. Not all dentists who specialize in these fields enjoy or offer this type of care to patients. We provide this type of service in our specialty practice, and can recommend other dental specialist colleagues who also provide this type of care.
Can all dentists provide endodontic care?
All dentists receive training in basic endodontic treatment in dental school. Some, like Dr. Fox, receive advanced training in endodontics as well as management of complex infections in general practice residency programs, after becoming a dentist. Since receiving an award for accomplishments endodontics, Dr. Fox has continually studied this important discipline of dentistry. There are also dentists, known as endodontists, who are specialists in treatment of root canal problems and associated complications - especially more complex cases.
Many dentists would rather not handle endodontic problems, and refer patients to another doctor for this type of care. Dentists who are not specialists in endodontics successfully treat most of the 14 million teeth receiving endodontic care each year in the United States.
What is the difference between a dentist and an endodontist?
Before 1963, when Endodontics became a recognized dental specialty, endodontic treatment was provided by dentists with a particular interest in this area of practice. Many dental schools considered endodontics to be a sub discipline of prosthodontics or restorative dentistry. Practicing specialists in prosthodontists often included endodontics as a special service in their offices, and accepted patient referrals from other dentists for this type of care.
Today, an endodontist is a dental specialist who has received two years of specialty training following completion of dental school. Many endodontists are also certified by the American Board of Endodontics after passing a series of examinations.
Endodontists are specially qualified dentists who limit their practice to root canal treatment and other procedures involving the dental pulp (the soft inner tissue of the tooth). They are experienced in treating complicated cases, diagnosing and relieving oral pain, as well as treating traumatic injuries to the teeth.
When is it necessary to consult an Endodontist ?
While many endodontic problems can be handled by your primary dental care provider, there are times and situations when your needs may be better served by a specialist in endodontics.
Oral pain often is difficult to pinpoint. Because of the vast network of nerves in the mouth, the pain of a damaged or diseased tooth often is felt in another tooth or in the head, neck or ear. An endodontist may be helpful in either diagnosing or treating this type of pain.
Your dentist may also enlist the assistance of an endodontist for treatment of teeth with complex root or root canal anatomy, as well as when previously placed root canal fillings have failed. When referring you to a specialist who performs nothing but endodontic procedures, your dentist demonstrates a personal concern for the quality of your dental care.
Because endodontists limit their practice to pulp-related procedures, they do not undertake the treatment needed after completion of the root canal filling.
How do I find a good Endodontist ?
Dentists who are specialists in endodontics can be easily located in the yellow pages of your telephone directory. Their listings are usually found under the "dentists" section of the yellow pages, typically in a guide to dentists listed by area of practice.
If you need help selecting among the different endodontists in your community, ask your general dentist or primary dental care provider. You can also contact the American Association of Endodontists for a listing of endodontic specialists in your area.
Our office has worked with many fine doctors who are specialists in endodontics. If you would like our recommendation for an endodontist in the Delaware Valley region, please feel free to telephone our office.
Teeth need special care after endodontic treatment
Loss of tooth structure from dental caries (cavities), prior fillings, and endodontic care frequently results in weakening of the tooth. Teeth which are structurally weakened are prone to fracture, which can lead to tooth loss. A special restoration called a post-and-core is commonly needed to reinforce weakened teeth. Post-and-core restorations of many types are available, some are tooth saving but others have potential for creating further problems if inappropriately used.
Dr. Fox can select and place the most suitable type of post-and-core for each tooth's unique condition from the many types available. He employs the same methods in his practice that he has taught to dental students, dentists, and dentists studying to become endodontists.