What is endodontics?
Endodontics is a branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association involving treatment of the pulp (root canal) and surrounding tissues of the tooth. When you look at your tooth in the mirror, what you see is the crown. The rest of the tooth, the portion hidden beneath the gum line, is called the root. Though the outer portion of the root is a hard tissue called dentin, the inside channel or “root canal” contains a pulp of soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems, can severely damage the pulp. When that happens, an endodontic specialist removes the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform normally.
I’m worried about x-rays. Should I be?
No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontics treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, that produces radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of already low dose conventional dental x-ray machinery. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent via e-mail or CD-ROM. For more information contact Dexis, Inc (www.dexis.com).
What about infection?
Again, there’s no need for concern. We adhere to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association. We utilize autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection, and perform routine monitoring of all sterilization equipment to ensure total safety.
What happens after treatment?
When your root canal therapy has been completed, a report of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact their office for a follow-up restoration within two weeks of completion of the root canal. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. However, if a problem does occur, we are available at all times to respond to your needs.
What new technologies are being used?
Surgical Operating Microscopes:
In addition to digital radiography, we utilize sugical operating microscopes. Magnification and fiber optic illumination are essential in visualizing the entire root canal system, thus ensuring the most thorough treatment possible.
Electronic Apex Locators:
An electronic apex locator is a device used in endodontics to determine the length of the root canal space. Electronic apex locators have been shown to be more accurate than radiography when determining the position of the apical foramen and thus minimize the number of x-rays needed to complete root canal treatment.
Ultrasonic instruments generate high-frequency vibrations that allow removal or loosening of obstructions and calcifications that would otherwise prevent thorough endodontic therapy.
Cone Beam CT:
Our practice utilizes state-of-the-art, small volume cone beam CT (computed tomography) technology that provides highly accurate, 3-D radiographic images for the diagnosis, planning, and treatment of endodontic disease. This allows three-dimensional visualization of teeth, bone, sinuses, and surrounding structures with minimal radiation to the patient, enabling a level of anatomical accuracy and patient care not possible with 2-D technologies (regular dental x-rays). With the addition of cone-beam CT technology to our office, our practice is committed to providing innovative, high-quality, patient care.