This is such an intricate and complex area of dentistry that endodontists (a dentist specializing in root canals) are required to take two years of additional schooling to be a specialist in this area of dentistry.
What’s in the Name?
To start, the term “endodontic” can be broken down to two simple components: the prefix “endo” and the suffix, “dontic.” In medical terminology, “endo-” means “within, inner, absorbing, or containing,” and “-dontic” refers to teeth. From this, it’s clear that “endodontics” means the treatment of the interior of a tooth.
What Does Endodontics Treat?
A typical case that would require endodontic therapy is a tooth that has had a cavity for a long enough time for the interior of the tooth to become affected by the cavity.
When this happens, an endodontic specialist will need to clean out the infected/inflamed internal tooth tissue. It is important to note that prolonged neglect of inflamed or infected tooth tissue can cause complications, such as an abscessed tooth. (Here is a brief video about the procedure.)
People often misunderstand the process behind a root canal, so here are some clarifications on the process:
- It’s better to pull the tooth than to get a root canal.
- This is not at all true. A dentist will almost always recommend that you attempt to save the tooth. With proper treatment, a tooth can recover and last just as long as your other healthy teeth.
- Also, if the tooth is pulled there is a space left open in your mouth, and misaligned teeth can become an issue. Misalignment can be solved by having a prosthetic tooth replacement, but is much more costly compared to endodontic therapy.
- Root Canals are terribly painful to have.
- While there can be some discomfort following the procedure due to the tooth’s natural healing process, the actual procedure has been described by many patients as painless thanks to modern anesthetics.
- If there is no pain, it can wait.
- Pain isn’t always the best gauge for determining whether or not you should pursue a root canal. As mentioned previously, if interior tooth tissue is exposed to a cavity for a prolonged period of time, further complications will certainly arise.
- A tooth is more susceptible to infection after a root canal.
- This is not true. However, it is necessary to regularly schedule check-up visits with your endodontist to ensure the tooth properly heals, especially if the tooth was abscessed. A successful root canal will remove all bacteria from the interior of a tooth and prevent any future infection.
Now that you know what an endodontist does and what endodontic therapy is, you can take the proper steps in addressing any potential root canal issue. If you have any questions, it is highly recommended that you reach out to your dentist.
While we are proud to have a very high success rate with this type of procedure, we always like to emphasize the value of regular dental checkups and home care. With healthy oral care habits, this problem can be avoided, which will save you a lot of time, pain, and money. We love our patients and will happily schedule regular cleanings with you to keep you happy and healthy. Contact us to schedule your next appointment!