Endodontic FAQ - New York, NY

Endodontists Perform Root Canals and Much More

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Understanding Endodontics Takes the Fear Out of Care

With Greek origins, the word “endodontic” means “inside the tooth.” Endodontics may have been practiced as early as the second or third century B.C., and evidence shows that pulp chambers were being drained to relieve pain and pressure as early as the first century A.D. In 1963, the American Dental Association (ADA) officially recognized endodontics as a dental specialty. When most people hear the word “endodontist,” the first thing that comes to mind is a root canal. Indeed, endodontists perform more root canals than any other procedure. In fact, more than 41,000 root canal procedures are performed each day, which adds up to more than 15 million root canals every year!

More than 41,000 root canal procedures are performed each day, which adds up to more than 15 million root canals every year!

But endodontists do so much more, from emergency care saving knocked-out teeth to bone grafts and tissue regeneration! We created this endodontic FAQ in New York, NY to answer common questions people ask about endodontists, as well as specific ones we get at our practice.

Frequently Asked Questions About Endodontics

Endodontics is a subspecialty of dentistry involved in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that impact the dental pulp, surrounding tissues and the tooth roots. This includes root canal treatment and retreatment, pulp capping, pulpotomy/pulpectomy, apicoectcomy, replantation of avulsed teeth, and more.

Endodontists complete two to three years of additional specialized training after dental school, and receive a certificate in endodontics from an advanced education program accredited by the ADA’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). This provides endodontists with the right combination of skills and expertise to effectively diagnose, treat and prevent conditions that impact the dental pulp and tooth roots, and to save teeth from extraction. Our endodontists Dr. Ron Galik and Dr. Mahua Bose are uniquely qualified to evaluate whether your tooth can be saved, and which treatment is best for you.

The restoration of a natural tooth through endodontic treatment is less expensive than having the tooth extracted and replaced with a dental implant. Furthermore, insurance plans typically cover root canals because they’re medically necessary, whereas dental implants are usually not covered, because insurance carriers consider them cosmetic surgery.

Damage to a tooth is quite often obvious, but hidden fractures or cracks may not produce significant symptoms. Tooth discoloration, intense tooth pain or discomfort, gum tenderness when chewing, persistent tooth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, and tenderness or swelling of your lymph nodes, the jaw bone area or gum tissues are potential signs that you may have a root canal infection.

No, saving a natural tooth is always the best option. Many root canal-treated teeth last a lifetime. While the best dental implants come close to replicating the esthetics and function of a natural tooth, they’re expensive and the process is time-consuming. A bridge requires a false tooth and the modifying and crowning of the adjacent teeth, and it doesn’t prevent bone loss.
The root canal system includes the pulp chamber and root canal space. Pulp is the softest layer of the tooth and contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. Tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems can cause bacteria to impact and damage the pulp. When this happens, it’s necessary to remove the diseased pulp to prevent further infection and inflammation, and to save the tooth.

While this popular myth persists, the truth is that the pain many people associate with root canals is actually due to the infection, not the treatment that resolves it! Thanks to local anesthetic, additional sedation options and advanced endodontic technologies, for most patients, getting a root canal is no more painful than getting a cavity filled.

Root canal treatment is highly effective, with a reported survival rate of greater than 97%. The prognosis is less favorable with repeated procedures, with a success rate of retreatment cases of 89% at five years.

Your tooth will be numb for a while after the procedure. To prevent discomfort, we recommend taking over-the-counter pain medication (e.g., acetaminophen) before the anesthesia wears off. It’s important to avoid chewing hard foods with that tooth until the final crown has been placed.

An apicoectomy (also known as root end surgery) is performed to restore function and save a tooth after inflammation or infection persists or develops after a root canal. During the procedure, we open the gum tissue over the impacted tooth. Then we remove inflamed or infected tissue and the tip of the tooth root (apex), seal the end of the root canal with a small filling, and apply a few sutures in the gums to enable proper healing.

Root canal treatment is highly effective, with a reported survival rate of greater than 97%. The prognosis is less favorable with repeated procedures, with a success rate of retreatment cases of 89% at five years.

Unlike permanent teeth, pulp problems in primary teeth typically involve direct pulp capping (a healing agent is placed directly over the exposed pulp), pulpectomy (removal of all of the pulp in the pulp chamber and root canal of a tooth), or pulpotomy (removal of a portion of the pulp). Pulpotomy is often referred to as a “baby root canal.”

When you lose a tooth, gum tissue generates more quickly than bone, thereby occupying the empty space. A membrane can be placed to prevent this and provide the bone sufficient time to regenerate. Bone regeneration is often done to rebuild supporting underlying bone damaged by periodontal disease and after tooth extraction. In addition to special membranes, donor bone grafts with the patient’s own bone or artificial bone are used to restore lost bone.
When the pulp of immature permanent teeth is infected, removal of the infected pulp and application of calcium hydroxide doesn’t maintain pulp vitality. Maintaining pulp vitality is essential for continuous root development and closure of the apex, especially in immature permanent teeth. In these cases, a procedure that replaces damaged pulp tissue with viable tissue can restore the normal function of the pulp-dentin structure. Stem cells derived from the patient’s pulp or bone marrow are combined with nanofiber-based material to create scaffolding upon which the tooth can regenerate.

Considered a dental emergency, an avulsed tooth is one that is completely dislodged from the tooth socket. Replantation within 20–30 minutes increases the chance of saving the tooth. Tooth luxation is dislodgment of the tooth from its normal position in the socket. Endodontists have unique skills and sophisticated technologies to treat both of these types of dental trauma.

While the two words are often used synonymously, even by dental practices, technically they aren’t the same thing. A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that forms as a result of an infection, generally bacterial. Infections and abscesses can impact your gums, pulp, tooth root and underlying jawbone.

  • Follow proper oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing regularly
  • Visit a dentist twice a year for routine preventive care
  • Limit sugary foods and drinks
  • Replace your toothbrush at least once every three months, or sooner if bristles start to fray
  • See an endodontist before pain worsens

Have additional questions about your tooth pulp and roots?

Call us today for a painless endodontic consultation at Advanced Endodontics of New York in New York, NY.

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