You may have heard the terms “endodontist” and “endodontics” used in conjunction with dentistry, but many are unaware the importance of endodontist s, how they differ from a standard dentist and what consists of endodontic treatment. Given the number of people each year that require endodontic treatment from an endodontist, it is very important for people to understand the role of endodontist s and endodontic treatment in maintain good oral health.
What is an endodontist?
An endodontist is a dentist that specialized in the diseases and treatment of the dental pulp, which consists of the nerve tissue, lymphatics and blood vessels inside of your teeth. Endodontist s perform a number of procedures including endodontic therapy (or root canal therapy), oral surgery, repairing cracked teeth, and treating dental trauma.
How do endodontists differ from traditional dentists?
In addition to the standard dental training dentists are required to complete in order to earn their dental degree, an endodontist must also complete a minimum of 2 years of postgraduate training in order to become an endodontist. This additional training specifically focuses on the diseases and treatment of the dental pulp.
What is endodontic treatment and when is it required?
Endodontic treatment, commonly known as a root canal, consists of removing the diseased or inflamed pulp within the tooth before cleaning and sealing the tooth. Root canals are one of the most common dental procedures, with more than 15 million performed each year in the U.S. alone.
When the dental pulp becomes inflamed or infected, endodontic treatment is required to cure the inflammation or infection and save the tooth. This can occur when the dental pulp becomes exposed, such as in the case of a large cavity or a cracked tooth. Bacteria within the mouth can inflame and infect the exposed pulp. If left untreated the infected pulp can result in an abscess or swollen area of tissue, containing an accumulation of pus.
Some signs that may indicate a root canal may be required include discoloration of the tooth, sensitivity to heat or cold in a tooth or swelling and tenderness of the tooth or gums. In some cases there may be no signs the dental pulp has become inflamed or diseased, which is why it is important to get regular dental checkups.
What are the benefits of endodontic treatment?
Along with eliminating the pain and swelling caused by diseased dental pulp, a root canal can save and preserve the natural tooth structure, which is ideal as the natural tooth is often more durable and functional than a replacement. Tooth extraction also not only requires additional procedures to replace the extracted tooth, but also costs significantly more than a traditional root canal.