Endodontics is the specialty of dentistry concerned with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disorders that impact the dental pulp, which is the tooth's blood and nerve supply. Your tooth actually has several layers, a hard outer layer called enamel, an inner layer called dentin, and a soft tissue center known as the pulp, which contains vessels, nerves and connective tissue that sustain the tooth. When the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, pressure and infection build within the tooth, causing pain and long-term dental disease if left untreated. Years ago, dentists had to extract teeth with injured pulps. Today, endodontics has given dentists a safe and effective means of saving damaged teeth. As skilled endodontists, we can expertly treat your endodontic problems.
The field of endodontics has continued to evolve, both from a scientific and technological point of view. A surgical operating microscope allows us to see the minute details and complexities of the root canal system and the use of motorized cleaning instruments, in a silent operating handpiece, has made our treatments more comfortable and efficient. Newly developed sterilization techniques for the root canals help us achieve a high level of success in our treatment. Research is currently being conducted on regrowing live nerve tissue into the infected canals of immature teeth in children. This Revascularization procedure allows young patients to redevelop pulp tissue and further enhances endodontic outcomes. Endodontics remains an exciting and evolving specialty and we continues to incorporate these advancements in his everyday practice as an endodontist.
What happens during endodontic treatment?
The first step is to determine if in fact you have an endodontic problem. The doctor will do a careful examination and take appropriate standard or digital x-rays. If you need treatment, he will administer a local anesthetic so that you will be comfortable throughout your visit. Sedation is also available if needed.
We will cover the tooth with a sheet of latex called a rubber dam. If you have a latex allergy, we will cover the tooth with a vinyl sheet. This allows the tooth to be isolated from the bacteria in the saliva and keeps the treatment area clean and dry.
The treatment of an infected pulp consists of the following four basic steps:
Step 1: After the tooth is fully anesthetized, we make an opening through the tooth into the area of the affected pulp. We then remove the affected tissue from the tooth. "This is like taking a splinter out of the skin."
Step 2: We clean, shape and medicate the canals that housed the pulp to eradicate the infection. We may prescribe an antibiotic, if we feel it is necessary. We will place a temporary filling in your tooth at the end of your first visit.
Step 3: Once the canals are cleaned and free of infection, we seal a sterile filling material into the canals to prevent bacteria from reentering the root canal system. We use x-rays in conjunction with computerized measuring devices to accurately control the treatment during its various steps.
Step 4: Once your treatment is completed, you will need a permanent restoration (usually a full crown or bonded filling) to replace the temporary filling. Your general dentist will provide this service for you and this must be done in a timely manner to prevent chipping or fracture of the treated tooth.
You 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 the restoration in the time frame that we recommend. Once the treated tooth is restored, you need only practice good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing and have regular checkups and cleanings. We also recommend a re-evaluation appointment in six months to assess the long term healing of the root canal treated tooth.
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 a modern tooth replacement is, there is nothing as good as your own natural tooth.
Call Bala Advanced Endodontics to schedule an appointment with us. We serve patients from the Main Line, Philadelphia and the Greater Delaware Valley, Narberth, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties.