What are Endodontics and What is an Endodontist?
Growing up, most of us have come to know dentists as people who pull out our teeth, use a tiny drill to scrape bits of the tooth, give us advice on maintaining dental health, or perform some procedures to cure our tooth pain and swollen gums.
However, in dentistry, there are specialists who diagnose and treat problems with the nerve tissue inside the tooth – known as the pulp; the roots of the teeth; the ligaments and the bones surrounding the teeth. These specialists who save teeth by performing root canal treatments and root canal therapy are called Endodontists.
What Do Endodontists Do?
Endodontists are dentists who have gone for a few more years of specialized training after completing dental school. According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), this extra training involves learning about diagnosing tooth pain, and performing root canal treatments and other procedures on the interior of the tooth.
These specialists belong to a field of dentistry called Endodontics. It comes from the Greek words “endo” and “odont” which mean “inside” and “tooth” respectively. Endodontists in Boca Raton, like Dr. Glen Mitchell, work closely with general dentists and receive referrals for patients who require advanced dental treatment procedures.
Types of Root Canal Procedures
Tooth damage can occur either due to cavities or through injuries that cause cracks. In turn, these cracks can expose the teeth to infection. On the other hand, cavities cause tooth decay and the crown is slowly degraded. The decay pushes through the hard glossy substance called enamel and past the hard bony tissue underneath the enamel called dentin. This leaves the pulp – which has a network of nerves and blood vessels – exposed to infection and thereby becomes inflamed. Needless to say, the patient will be in a lot of pain.
If a patient is referred to a endodontist in South Florida, the specialist can use microscopes, x-rays and 3-D imaging equipment to diagnose the problem. Usually, a patient has only two choices: either undergo endodontic surgery or simply have the tooth extracted. Since tooth extraction requires extra procedures such as getting an implant or dentures, endodontic surgery is more cost-effective.
After diagnosing the problem, the root canal specialist will determine whether a patient requires a non-surgical root canal procedure or endodontic surgery. Sometimes, surgery may be required prior to treatment to identify the cause of your tooth pain.
Some types of Endodontic surgery procedures include:
- Apexification – this is where the apex of a tooth in a young patient is not completely formed. The endodontist therefore removes the pulp and stimulates the growth of bone which is deposited at the end of the root and allows the specialist to perform root canal therapy later to save the tooth.
- Apicoectomy – this is a procedure that involves opening the gum tissue near a tooth in order to remove the ends of a root or an infected tissue. The root canal is sealed and the bone heals around it.
- Intentional Replantation – this procedure involves extracting a tooth, treating it and putting it back into its socket in the mouth.
With such procedures comes the fear among patients that it will be a painful experience. However, as with any surgeries on other parts of the body, endodontists use local anesthetics to make the patients as comfortable as possible. Although patients are told to expect some mild discomfort, Dr. Glen Mitchell is known for his painless, efficient root canal therapy. You can return to your normal life probably the day after the surgical procedure.