Most of us picture teeth as the pearly white part of the mouth that enhances the appearance of the smile. However, we are not usually aware of the deep anatomy within the tooth. The tooth consists of roots and root canals that protect the vital pulp tissue.
When the pulp gets infected or inflamed, a dentist may recommend root canal treatment, also known as endodontic therapy. Often such procedures are performed by endodontists – root canal specialists. Endodontists undergo expert training to learn the techniques and advanced equipment that provide high-quality care with the best outcome. (1)
Endodontists mainly focus on diagnosing the cause of tooth pain and performing procedures that are related to treating the interior of the tooth. Therefore, they are also called as Specialists in root canal
Who is a root canal specialist?
Root canal specialists or endodontist are dental professionals that undergo additional training for two to three years in an advanced specialty program after completing dental school. They mainly focus on studying the diseases and treatments of the dental pulp. Some of the benefits of root canal specialists over general dentists include –
Root canal specialists limit their practice to endodontics and exclusively study the dental pulp. On average, they perform at least 25 root canal treatments in a week as compared to two root canal treatments performed by a general dentist. (2)
Root canal specialists dedicate their time to accurately diagnosing and finding the cause of oral and facial pain. Usually, such a diagnosis is challenging to make by a general dentist. Moreover, they provide prompt treatment.
Expert in pain management
Root canal specialists are familiar with specialized techniques that provide comfort and pain relief during the treatment. They are experts in administering anesthetics, especially with people who have a problem getting numb. (3)
Additionally, root canal specialists provide detailed post-treatment instructions to relieve tooth pain after the procedure.
Use cutting edge technology
Root canal specialists use advanced equipment and materials that are specifically designed to bring a better outcome of the treatment. They pay attention to details and perform procedures under extreme isolation by using a rubber dam – a small rubber sheet placed to isolate the tooth during treatment.
Moreover, they use technologies such as lasers to provide supreme sterilization of the root canals. Such measures increase the success rate of the treatment. Additionally, they use digital radiographs and three-dimensional imaging, which provides a detailed picture of the tooth anatomy and associated infection. (4)
Most of the endodontists also use operating microscopes for better visualization of the canals, which increases their efficiency to treat the patients.
What do endodontist do?
As the name suggests, endodontist performs root canal treatment – a dental procedure performed to remove the infected pulp tissue and save the tooth. This procedure mainly involves the following steps –
- Drill the tooth to open and access the root canals of the tooth
- Remove the infected or inflamed pulp tissue from the canals
- Clean the canals thoroughly (5)
- Replace the pup tissue with sterile, biocompatible filler – gutta-percha
- Seal the tooth to prevent re-infection
Root canal treatments have around a 95% success rate in preserving the natural tooth in the mouth. Additionally, endodontist also looks after traumatic tooth fractures and apicectomies – a surgical procedure where the infected tissue is removed from the tip of the tooth root.
When should you visit an endodontist?
Often, patients are referred to as root canal specialists by a general dentist. This is because endodontists have better knowledge in diagnosing the disease and identifying the complications that might potentially affect the treatment plan. You should visit a root canal specialist if you experience the following symptoms –
- Severe toothache that increases on sleeping
- Fractured tooth
- Traumatic dental injury
- Knocked out tooth
- Pain due to pulp inflammation or infection