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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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