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Understanding Root Canals: How Can An Endodontist Help You?

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Endodontic surgeries aren't very well understood by the public, since most people just go to a dentist when they have oral health problems. However, if your dentist has informed you that you'll need a root canal, it may be time to do a little research and talk to an endodontic specialist before you have the surgery.

What Is A Root Canal Actually?

Common usage of the term would dictate it's a type of dental surgery, but in reality, the root canal is just a part of the tooth

In the center of every tooth is the root canal, which holds a soft, moist tissue called pulp. Pulp has several jobs, like keeping the tooth moist inside and ensuring it gets nutrients and remains healthy. Pulp also contains all of a tooth's nerves, which means its responsible for sensing extremes of temperature and relaying pain signals to the brain when something is wrong with the tooth. In a healthy tooth, damaged pulp repairs itself over time.

Unhealthy pulp, on the other hand, doesn't heal itself as well. If pulp is damaged through injury or gum disease and the damage is overwhelming, it may die. Dead pulp leads to bone and gum infections, swelling of the tendons in the jaw, and eventually the affected tooth falling out as bacteria move down past the pulp and further into the jaw.

How Does Endodontic Treatment Prevent Damage From Pulp Death?

Like with any infection, dead tissue must be removed and diseased tissue must be cleaned before healing can begin. When you're working with the pulp inside of a tooth, however, this can be a tall order. That's where endodontists come in. Using micro-tools, an endodontic surgeon will carefully scrape out all of the dead pulp in an infected tooth, then seal up the root canal to prevent further bacteria from getting in. At the end of the procedure, the surgeon may place a filling or crown if the initial problem was caused by a cavity.

If a tooth is treated quickly enough after the pulp partially or wholly dies, the surgery should prevent it from ever falling out. A tooth that has had this procedure will still be more fragile than a healthy tooth, however.

Multiple surgeries may be necessary for each infected tooth to be completely fixed. Your endondist can direct you as to tooth care in between surgeries. Patients will almost always be sedated during endodontic surgery, so you should discuss any potential conflicts you may have with anesthetic and sedative medications. 

Why Should You Go To An Endodontist?

General dental surgeons are qualified to perform root canal procedures on their patients, and many do at most around 2 per week. Endodontists, on the other hand, perform almost 25 root canal procedures per week, meaning they have extensive experience in the surgery and are given constant opportunity to practice.

Endodontists are also much more often available for emergency endodontic surgery than general dentists, since they specialize in the treatment of a condition that can quickly produce serious infections. Because dentists perform so many different services and treatments, their availability can be fairly tight in comparison.

Difficult cases are much easier to treat in an endodontist's surgery due to the better equipment as well. Unlike general dentists, whose funds are stretched thin buying equipment for examining every possible dental malady, endodontists can buy only the equipment related to the conditions they treat. This allows them to purchase higher-quality software and tools, which in turn makes it easier for them to handle cases that are too unique or difficult for dentists.

Patients who understand the surgeries they undergo tend to experience less stress, so you can help yourself prepare for your root canal by talking with your endodontist and asking any questions you might have. In the old days, a root canal might have made you cry, but nowadays the process should be completely painless and hassle-free if you have the right doctor. Check out a clinic like Maplewood Dental Associates, PA to get in touch with an endodontist.