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, such as Dr. Puckett, 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 endodontic 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 to cotherapists via e-mail or CD-ROM. For more information contact Sirona Dental Systems, Inc.
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.
What happens after root canal treatment?
When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact his office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. 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. If a problem does occur, however, we are available at all times to respond.
What new technologies are being used?
In addition to digital radiography, we utilize special operating microscopes. Magnification and fiber optic illumination are helpful in aiding the doctor to see tiny details inside your tooth. Also, a tiny video camera on the operating microscope can record images of your tooth to further document the doctor’s findings.
Do you remove the roots?
What is a root canal?
To fully appreciate the root canal procedure it helps to be familiar with the basic anatomy of the tooth. A tooth is composed of a number of different types of tissues. Perhaps the most familiar of these parts of a tooth is enamel. Enamel is the hard mineralized material that covers the outside of a tooth. Beneath this enamel layer lies the dentin. Like enamel, dentin is also mineralized however it is somewhat softer than the enamel layer on the exterior. Inside the dentin we find the dental pulp (commonly referred to as “nerve”). The dental pulp, in contrast to the other parts of a tooth, is a soft tissue. This soft tissue is composed of nerves, blood vessels, & other types of tissues. The dental pulp plays an important role in the formation of teeth early in life however when teeth are fully formed its purpose is greatly diminished.
Endodontics (Endo=inside dontic=teeth), is the dental specialty that involves the study and treatment of the tissue inside of a tooth, the dental pulp. Endodontic treatment is often required when the pulp becomes either infected or irreversibly inflamed. This infection or inflammation of the dental pulp can occur in a number of ways: decay, dental procedures, trauma, diet, etc. . The pulp is different from most other tissues in the body; it is encased within a confined space and lacks a large blood supply that is found throughout the body. These characteristics contribute to the body’s inability to respond to the inflammation or infection present within the pulp. Therefore, whenever the pulp becomes inflamed or infected it must be removed. If left untreated, this can lead to pain or an abscess. The pulp can be removed in one of two ways – either removal of the entire tooth (tooth extraction) or removal of the pulp only (root canal therapy).
The root canal procedure involves a number of steps. Local anesthetics are used to anesthetize the tooth. Next, a rubber sheet is used to isolate the tooth, this helps to keep the tooth clean and dry throughout the procedure. The pulp is then located by making an access cavity through the tooth. Once the pulp has been located the nerve tissue within the root(s) is removed using small metal instruments (files) and irrigating solutions. When the canal(s) have been properly cleaned and disinfected they are filled with gutta-percha, a rubber filling material. Finally, the access cavity is filled with either a temporary or permanent filling.