It’s no secret that we love dentistry and all that comes with helping patients improve and maintain their overall health by encouraging good oral hygiene practices.
However, we recognize that the dental world, and its various specialties, can be a maze for most of the population. That’s only natural since most people might go their entire lives only seeing the dentist twice a year for regular cleanings.
While that’s great for the patients who enjoy that level of care, for others there might be additional treatments that become necessary over time.
When something outside the normal preventative treatment occurs, your dentist might refer you to a specialist either in the same dental practice as your dentist or perhaps a different office. Depending on your particular treatment plan, you might be referred to either an endodontist or a periodontist.
Fear not those fancy words – we’re here to help you better understand what they do and how they’re different than a dentist.
What Is an Endodontist?
Endodontist is a fancy way of classifying dentists who have at least two additional years of training beyond dental school. Their training is focused primarily on procedures related to the interior treatment of the tooth such as root canals and diagnosing tooth pain. In many cases of tooth disease, the tooth can be saved with endodontic treatments.
While endodontists aren’t the only dentists that treat diseased teeth or perform root canals, because of their specialty they tend to be well versed in pain treatment and management.
In addition, they typically perform these types of dental treatments on a more regular basis – perhaps performing four times as many in a week as a general dentist might. Both of these are reasons that you might be referred by your general dentist to a specialist outside of the practice.
What Is a Root Canal?
Most folks who have had a root canal will tell you about the instant relief and joy experienced after a root canal. Why? Because their tooth no longer hurts! The infection is gone.
How do they do it? We hope to answer some of those questions by providing good information that helps explain the treatment process so that patients can better prepare themselves for their appointments. While endodontists treat many different issues related to tooth pain, root canals are the most common.
Inside your tooth, below the white enamel and a layer called dentin, lies soft tissue called dental pulp. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue.
When this pulp becomes inflamed or infected it can cause mild to severe tooth pain that requires treatment. In a root canal, the infected pulp is removed, and the area is cleaned and disinfected. It is then filled with a rubber-like material and the tooth is restored with a crown or filling. This entire procedure can help save your natural teeth and allow you to continue chewing and smiling just as you did before.
Why See An Endodontist?
Most often patients are referred to an endodontist by their general dentist because they are experience non-specific tooth pain that the dentist has been unable to identify and treat. Patients might also be referred for a root canal before their dentist places a crown.
Endodontists have specialized equipment and extensive training in dental anatomy. So much so that no canal can hide from a seasoned endodontist, which is important because the tooth will likely need retreatment if all root system is not property cleaned and treated.
The goal of modern dentistry is to save the natural teeth whenever possible, and endodontists can be extremely helpful in this area with their expertise in both diagnosing tooth pain and treating issues related to the internal area of the tooth. Preserving natural teeth is imperative to preserving bone.
Our office is committed to offering many options when it comes to your dental plan. We have worked with and trust not only the providers in our office but those specialists that we entrust with our patient’s care. In our valley, we are extremely fortunate to work with talented specialists who are committed to serving our community and providing access to specialty care.
So if you ever hear the dentist talk about a root canal, you can feel confident that you are addressing the problem and saving a tooth, and seeing a provider either in our office or a referring office who can join your dental team and work with you to maintain and improve your oral health.