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 to cotherapists via e-mail or disk.
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 treatment?
When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your general dentist. You should contact their office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at Phoenix Endodontic Group. Your 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, both video and still cameras on the operating microscope can record images of your tooth to further document the procedure and the doctor’s findings. Surgical microscopes are fast becoming the standard of care in the field of Endodontics.
An electronic apex locator is an electronic device used in endodontics to determine the position of the apical foramen and thus determine the length of the root canal space. The apex of the root has a specific resistance to electrical current, and this is measured using a pair of electrodes typically hooked into the lip and attached to an endodontic file. The electronic principle is relatively simple and is based on electrical resistance; when a circuit is complete (tissue is contacted by the tip of the file), resistance decreases markedly and current suddenly begins to flow. According to the device this event is signaled by a beep, a buzz, a flashing light, digital readouts, or a pointer on a dial.
Since 1958 the use of ultrasonic technology has played a vital role in preventative, restorative and surgical dental procedures. It was not until the 1990’s until this technology was incorporated in a variety of endodontic applications. Some of these uses include finding and accessing calcified canals, access enhancement, removal of intra-canal obstructions (ie posts, separated instruments, pulp stones), irrigation, and most well-known, root end surgical preparations.