Endodontists are teeth experts who specialize in teeth maintenance. They do so through endodontic therapy, which involves treating the inner tissues of the teeth, also known as the nerve or pulp. All dentists undergo training in endodontic treatment and diagnosis. However, diagnosing and treating some endodontic conditions can be challenging for a general dentist. This is why you should consult an endodontic specialist.

Unlike a general dentist, an endodontist has undergone advanced postgraduate training for two years. Endodontists study root canal procedures and techniques at a deeper level to allow them to diagnose and treat more complicated cases. If you need quality endodontic treatment in Santa Clarita, CA, the experienced dentists at the Valencia Advanced Dentistry At Copperhill Smiles can help.

Certification of An Endodontist

The American Board of Endodontics is responsible for certifying all qualified endodontists. Board certification is typically an elective process. An endodontist completes this process after graduating from an ADA-approved postgraduate program.

The process of board certification involves taking a written examination. The examination helps the board determine a dentist's understanding of a broad range of fields related to endodontics. The endodontist must also submit several cases from their practice that show skills and expertise in the full scope of endodontics. An endodontist could also go through an oral exam before certification. During an oral exam, the endodontist to be certified must show clinical problem-solving and decision-making capabilities concerning endodontic treatment.

The Common Endodontic Procedures

The following are the standard endodontic procedures:

Root Canal

A typical tooth has several layers. The enamel is the hard outer layer. The next layer is the dentin, which supports the enamel. The inner dentin has a soft tissue at its center known as a pulp composed of nerves, blood vessels, and other supporting tissues that form the enamel during development. The pulp is no longer essential for the tooth's function after its full development. However, if the pulp becomes infected, it could compromise your tooth to the extent of tooth loss. An infected tooth pulp can also result in excruciating pain, calling for immediate dental treatment.

A root canal is a dental procedure that an endodontist conducts to save an infected tooth, which would otherwise be removed. Endodontic treatment is essential if the pulp is inflamed or the canals containing the pulp are infected. The common reasons for infection or inflammation inside a tooth are repeated dental procedures, trauma, deep decay, or fractures and cracks. Symptoms of an infection or inflammation include:

  • Swelling.
  • Tooth discoloration.
  • Spontaneous throbbing pain.
  • Tenderness deep in the bone.
  • Biting sensitivity.
  • Prolonged or abnormal sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks.

Sometimes, patients do not exhibit symptoms of an infected tooth. Your dentist can notice the infection or inflammation using diagnostic X-rays. Infection of the canals or pulp inflammation can lead to dental abscess, pain, and tooth loss if left untreated. Your dentist can recommend root canal treatment if you experience these symptoms. A root canal can eliminate infection, relieve pain, and save your tooth.

The endodontist can remove the inflamed pulp during the root canal procedure. The dentist will also thoroughly clean and seal the root canal. This procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia to ensure that it is not painful. Your dentist can complete the root canal in one appointment, but often, dentists recommend several appointments depending on your case.

Endodontic Re-treatment

Your dentist can recommend a subsequent endodontic appointment under the following circumstances:

  • Complex root anatomy or significant root curvatures.
  • Significant infection or inflammation.
  • Calcified roots.

The success rate of root canal procedures is around 90%. Sometimes, the root canal can fail to heal as expected, leaving you with discomfort and pain. Your dentist can recommend endodontic retreatment to promote healing and restore the affected tooth.

The following are the factors that affect the success of a root canal procedure:

  • The extent of infection by the time you seek treatment.
  • The health of the supporting bone and gingival tissues.
  • Chronic or long-standing infections.
  • Cracks extending into the root.
  • Trauma.
  • The natural tooth structure that remains after decay removal.

During consultation, your dentist will inform you if your tooth can be saved with endodontic treatment. He/she will also let you know if a complication occurs at the time of or after treatment.

Endodontic retreatment is similar to a root canal procedure but with few steps. Your dentist will numb the area to avoid discomfort and reopen the crown to access the root canal filling material. In most cases, the dentist will extract the restorative material. This includes filling material, post, and crown to allow them access to the root canals.

The next step will involve cleaning the canals and reshaping the pulp chamber after removing the filling materials. The dentist uses illumination and magnification to help search for any additional canals or unusual anatomy that requires treatment. The dentist will then seal the root canal and put a temporary filling in your tooth.

You must return to your dentist for a new crown or other restoration placed on the treated tooth after your endodontic re-treatment. The purpose is to protect the teeth and restore their function and natural appearance.

Traumatic Tooth Injury

Traumatic tooth injuries usually happen because of sports mishaps or accidents. Traumatic tooth injuries include knocked-out, dislodged, or chipped teeth. Tooth injuries do not often look as serious as they are. However, you risk infection or other complications if an injured tooth is not addressed promptly.

Many endodontists specialize in offering emergency care for traumatic tooth injuries. They have advanced training, technologies, techniques, and skills to save damaged teeth.

When a tooth is cracked or broken, the pulp at the center of the tooth becomes infected or inflamed if prompt treatment is not administered. A tooth without visible damage could also have sustained an internal injury requiring endodontic treatment.

Endodontists also use their skills to save knocked-out teeth. A knocked-out tooth can only undergo successful replantation if you visit an endodontist within 30 minutes of your injury. The dentist will put the tooth back in the socket and use splints to stabilize it. Doing this allows the gums to reattach. Your dentist will eventually perform root canal treatment on the knocked-out tooth.

Apexogenesis Procedure

Children's and immature adult teeth that are not fully formed can require special attention. In an immature permanent tooth, the tip or apex of the root is usually open, and the root canal walls are still thin. An adult tooth that is still immature could require an endodontic procedure in case of injury. This procedure is known as apexogenesis. This involves putting medication into the injured soft tissues to assist in developing the root as the pulp heals.

Apicoectomy Or Root End Surgery

Your dentist can recommend an apicoectomy if tooth pain does not respond to a root canal procedure. Also known as root end surgery, an apicoectomy is a procedure that entails removing the root tip, known as the apex. It also involves removing any infected or inflamed tissues. This procedure restores damaged teeth and prevents tooth loss or tooth extraction.

Apicoectomies are performed frequently. However, only endodontists have the specialized training, skill, and precision to perform intricate procedures. The success of this minor surgical procedure is high because of the advanced diagnostic methodologies, microscopic visualization, and ultrasonic instrumentation.

Generally, an apicoectomy takes one to an hour and a half hours to complete. The treatment period will depend on the tooth's affected area and the complexity of its structure. Treating lower molars takes longer, while treating the front teeth can be faster. An apicoectomy procedure is comfortable and completed under local anesthesia and dental sedation. It alleviates pain related to tooth infections. You can experience slight swelling and discomfort as the incision heals one to three days after the procedure. The good news is that you can manage this easily with the pain medication your dentist prescribes.

Internal Bleaching

It is common for a tooth that has been broken or undergone trauma to become discolored or darkened. This could also happen to a tooth infected or overcome by excessive tooth decay. This discoloration can remain even after a root canal. Internal bleaching techniques can be effective instead of conventional teeth whitening. Internal bleaching works as follows:

  • Your dentist will isolate the affected tooth to protect the neighboring teeth.
  • The dentist will remove the decay that caused the discoloration and replace it with a bleaching agent. He/she will then seal the tooth temporarily.
  • The endodontist will remove the bleaching agent once he/she is sure that the tooth has reached the desired shade.

Any person with dark or discolored teeth because of a root canal treatment or trauma is a candidate for internal tooth bleaching. This procedure is not painful, but you will occasionally experience slight sensitivity or a discharge of the bleaching agent that could cause a little discomfort.

The period it takes to realize the results of internal bleaching will vary depending on the severity of the stain. Usually, dentists leave the bleaching solution for a couple of days or weeks before a follow-up. During the follow-up appointment, your dentist will determine whether the tooth has improved and if it requires additional bleaching. They can enjoy the results for five to seven years after the procedure is completed.

The Cost of Endodontic Treatment

Most people are often concerned about the cost of endodontic treatment. The cost varies depending on the type of treatment performed. In addition, the following factors will also determine the cost of an endodontic treatment:

Technology Employed During Treatment

The cost will likely be high if your dentist utilizes advanced equipment during endodontic treatment. The equipment can include advanced surgical microscopes and digital endoscopes. Other advanced technologies that endodontists employ during treatment include modern digital X-ray equipment and 3D Cone Beam Computerized Tomography.

Insurance Coverage

The cost of an endodontic treatment will depend on whether your insurer covers the procedure. The maximum amounts allocated to endodontic treatment differ for different insurance companies. You should consult your insurance provider for the exact coverage. Dental insurance can cover 10 to 60% of the entire cost of endodontic treatment, depending on the conditions of your insurance policy.

The Expertise of The Endodontist

The training and experience of the dental professional also play a crucial role in calculating the cost of an endodontic treatment. The cost of treatment would be lower if a general dentist performs endodontic treatment. Endodontists or specialists will charge you more because they mainly focus on complicated cases. The cost of an endodontic treatment will also differ depending on the location of the dental facility.

The Specific Tooth That Requires Treatment

A front tooth has one root, while a molar tooth has two or three roots. In this case, the endodontic treatment procedure cost would be higher when treating teeth with multiple roots than for a single-root tooth. The cost of the procedure will also depend on the tooth's location. The location of a tooth affects its accessibility to the tooth roots. Endodontic treatment for teeth in easy-to-reach areas will be less expensive than treating teeth in hard-to-reach areas.

The Severity of The Tooth Damage

If a tooth pulp is severely infected or damaged, it would cost more because of the tooth's removal, filling, and sealing. You will incur lesser costs for a mildly to moderately damaged tooth.

Additional Costs

The endodontist will charge you more if an endodontic treatment is performed as an emergency, same-day, or weekend procedure. A patient can also need a dental X-ray and topping of the tooth with a dental crown or filling before or after endodontic treatment. Some extra services are charged separately and summed up with the endodontic treatment cost.

Endodontic Treatment FAQ

Endodontics is a discipline of dentistry acknowledged by the American Dental Association that treats the pulp (root canal) along with the neighboring tissue of the tooth. If you look in the mirror, you will see your tooth's crown. The root refers to the section of the tooth that is buried under the gum line. Although the outside portion of the root is a firm tissue known as dentin, its inner channel, or "root canal," comprises a pulp of soft tissues, arteries, veins, and nerves.

Bacteria that penetrate the pulp due to dental decay, gum disease, tooth cracking, or other issues may cause significant damage. When this happens, an endodontist removes the damaged pulp to preserve the tooth and avoid additional inflammation and infection. Following effective endodontic therapy, the tooth continues to function normally.

What Happens After Endodontic Treatment?

Endodontic patients seldom encounter problems following standard endodontic therapy or microsurgery. Nevertheless, we are always available to assist if an issue occurs.

You should avoid chewing or biting on the treated tooth unless your dentist has restored it. Quite frequently, a crown is put on the tooth. Unrestored teeth are prone to fracture, so schedule an appointment with a dental professional as soon as possible for a whole restoration procedure. Otherwise, you merely need to maintain good oral hygiene, which includes brushing, flossing, and getting regular examinations and cleanings.

Endodontically treated teeth typically live as long as natural teeth. Sometimes, a tooth that has received endodontic therapy fails to recover , or the discomfort persists. Sometimes, the tooth becomes uncomfortable or unhealthy for months or even years following successful treatment. Often, an additional endodontic procedure can salvage the tooth.

Is Endodontic Treatment Ideal For All Teeth?

Most teeth are treatable endodontically.  Sometimes, a tooth cannot be salvaged because the root canals are unavailable, the root is severely broken, the tooth lacks enough jawbone support, and the dentist cannot restore the tooth. However, breakthroughs in endodontics are allowing teeth that would not have been saved just a few years ago to be saved. Endodontic surgery can be used to save a tooth if endodontic treatment fails.

Why Can a Tooth Need Additional Treatment After Endodontic Treatment?

New trauma, extensive decay, and cracked, loose, or fractured fillings can all result in new infections within your tooth. In some circumstances, the endodontist could discover exceedingly tiny or curved canals that cannot be repaired during the initial treatment.

Should I Be Concerned About Undergoing an X-ray During Endodontic Treatment?

No. While x-rays will be required throughout your endodontics treatment, we use digital radiography, a modern non-film computerized technology. This technology produces radiation levels substantially lower than those produced by already low-dose conventional dental X-ray machinery. These digital photos can be transmitted electronically to you or your involved dentists.

Find an Experienced Endodontic Specialist Near Me

If the soft tissue within your tooth gets infected or inflamed, it can cause extreme pain and a pounding sensation. Endodontic treatment alleviates unpleasant symptoms such as acute tooth discomfort and sensitivity to cold and hot temperatures. This therapy can also help protect your natural teeth, reducing the need for more intrusive and time-consuming dental procedures. Your endodontist removes germs and decay from the inside of the afflicted tooth to prevent infection from spreading and repair the tooth's healthy section. If you need reliable endodontic treatment in Santa Clarita, CA, we invite you to contact Valencia Advanced Dentistry At Copperhill Smiles. Contact us at 661-775-7717 to speak to one of our experts.