What is Endodontics?

Endodontics is the branch of dentistry defined by the educational requirements for the training of a specialist in the discipline. Endodontics includes, but is not limited to, the differential diagnosis and treatment of oral pains of pulpal and/or periradicular origin; vital pulp therapy such as pulp capping and pulpotomy.

Root canal therapy such as pulpectomy, nonsurgical treatment of root canal systems with or without periradicular pathosis of pulpal origin, and the obturation of these root canal systems; selective surgical removal of pathological tissues resulting from pulpal pathosis, intentional replantation and replantation of avulsed teeth: surgical removal of tooth structure such as in apicoectomy, hemisection, and root amputation; endodontic implants, bleaching of discolored dentin and enamel (teeth); retreatment of teeth previously treated endodontically, and treatment procedures related to coronal restorations by means of post and/or cores involving the root canal space.

The endodontic specialist is responsible for the advancement of endodontic knowledge through research, the transmission of information concerning the most recent advances in biologically acceptable procedures and materials; and the education of the public as to the importance of endodontics in keeping the dentition in a physiologically functional state for the maintenance of oral and systemic health.

Who Performs Endodontic Treatment?

All dentists, including your general dentist, received endodontic treatment in dental school. General dentists can perform endodontic procedures along with dental procedures, but often they refer patients needing endodontic treatment to endodontists.

Root canal treatment of tooth decayEndodontists are dentists with special training in endodontic procedures. They do only endodontics in their practices because they are specialists. To become specialists, they complete dental school and an additional two years of advanced training in endodontics. They perform routine as well as difficult and very complex endodontic surgery. Endodontists are also experienced at finding the cause of oral and facial pain that has been difficult to diagnose.

Why Choose an Endodontist?

Endodontists are dentists with at least two additional years of advanced specialty education in diagnosis and root canal treatment.

Because they limit their practices to endodontics, they treat these types of problems every day. They use their special training and experience in treating difficult cases, such as teeth with narrow or blocked canals, or unusual anatomy.

Endodontists may use advanced technology, such as operating microscopes, ultrasonics and digital imaging, to perform these special services.

Endodontic Education

Phoneix Endodontist, Dr. Cavender, root canal therapyIn the United States after a dentist finishes their Dental degree they must undergo 2-3 additional years of postgraduate training to become an endodontist. The American Dental Association (CODA) accredited programs are a minimum of two years in length. Following successful completion of this training the dentist becomes Board eligible to sit the American Board of Endodontology examination. Successful completion of board certification results in Diplomate status in the American Board of Endodontology.

There are 50 endodontic training programs in the United States, of which roughly 400 students are enrolled

What is Endodontic Treatment?

In most cases, treatment saves teeth which otherwise would have to be extracted. Endodontics, or root canal therapy, consists of cleansing, disinfecting and filling the root canal(s) of the diseased tooth.

Root canals are required when the pulpy portion of the tooth in the roots become diseased. The surface of the tooth may still be healthy, but the roots are no longer so. The dentist specializing in endodontics extracts diseased pulp from below the tooth by drilling through the tooth.

How much will the procedure cost?

The cost varies depending on how severe the problem is and which tooth is affected. Molars are more difficult to treat and usually cost more. Most dental insurance policies provide coverage for endodontic treatment.

Generally, endodontic treatment and restoration of the natural tooth are less expensive that the alternative of having the tooth extracted. An extracted tooth must be replaced with a bridge or implant to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. These procedures tend to cost more than endodontic treatment and appropriate restoration.

Will the tooth need any special care or additional treatment?

Endodontist Therapy by Precision Endodontics of ScottsdaleYou should not chew or bite on the treated tooth until you have had it restored by your dentist. The unrestored tooth is susceptible to fracture, so you should see your dentist for a full restoration as soon as possible. Otherwise, you need only practice good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular checkups and cleanings.

Most endodontically treated teeth last as long as other natural teeth. In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment fails to heal or the pain continues. Occasionally, the tooth may become painful or diseased months or even years after successful treatment. Often when this happens, another endodontic procedure can save the tooth.

What is endodontic surgery?

Apicoectomy surgery of infected tooth tissueThe most common endodontic surgical procedure is called an apicoectomy or root-end resection. When inflammation or infection persists in the bony area around the end of your tooth after endodontic treatment, your endodontist may perform an apicoectomy. In this procedure, the endodontist opens the gum tissue near the tooth to expose the underlying bone, and the infected tissue is removed. The very end of the root is also removed, and a small filling may be placed to seal the root canal. Local anesthetics make the procedure comfortable, and most patients return to their normal activities the next day. Learn more here.

Why would I need Endodontic Surgery

Root canals are generally all that is needed in order to save teeth that have become infected or had trauma to them. On occasion, a root canal alone cannot save the tooth and surgery may be recommended. Surgery can also be used to diagnose fractures or hidden canals that do not appear on xrays but still cause pain in the tooth. Damaged root surfaces and surrounding bone can also be treated through endodontic surgery.

What are the alternatives to endodontic treatment?

When the pulp of a tooth is damaged, the only alternative to endodontic treatment is extraction of the tooth. To restore chewing function and to prevent adjacent teeth from shifting, the extracted tooth must be replaced with an implant or bridge. This requires surgery or dental procedures on adjacent healthy teeth and can be far more costly and time-consuming than endodontic treatment and restoration of the natural tooth.

No matter how effective modern tooth replacements are - and they can be very effective - nothing is as good as a natural tooth.

Michael S. Cavender, D.D.S.

480-342-8118

Patient Testimonials

"Dr. Cavender and Team, I want to let you all know how much I appreciate your kindness and wonderful skill that I experienced at your office. Root canals are probably not on the top ten list of fun things but ALL of you make my experience very pleasant."

Carol S.

"Dr. Cavender and Team, Coming to your office for the first time I was a bit nervous. I walked away in awe!! Everyone was so nice and made me feel so comfortable. I never felt any pain. Unbelievable. Thank you for being so good and gentle."

Sharon J.

American Association of Endodontists
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