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. Digital X-rays results in 1/6th the radiation exposure to you. The radiation you get from dental X-rays is negligible. You receive more radiation by just “living” than you do by going to your dentist.
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 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?
CBCT Scan (3-D Scan):
In addition to digital radiography, we are excited to offer cone beam computed tomography (CBCT), or in other words, a 3-D scan. Traditional X-rays capture two-dimensional (2-D or flat) views of the tooth, while CBCT will image the structure of the tooth with amazingly detailed 3-D views of the tooth with much less distortion, more clarity, and unlimited perspectives to allow Dr. Ward make an accurate diagnosis and choice of treatment. If a patient is being seen for a failed root canal, a CBCT can show where the root canal failed and whether the tooth is a good candidate for further treatment. Unlike digital 2-D X-rays which emit very little radiation, CBCT does emit approximately the same amount of radiation as traditional X-rays. Children and pregnant patients may need to calculate the risk-benefit when deemed clinically necessary.
We utilize special operating microscopes. Magnification and fiber optic illumination are helpful in aiding Drs. Ward and Ritter 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 their findings.