Endodontic FAQ

What Is Endodontics?

Endodontics is a specialty 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 endodontic treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, that produces radiation levels up to 90% lower than those of already low dose conventional dental x-rays. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed, and sent to your general dentist or other specialists via e-mail or CD-ROM.

What About Disinfection Procedures?

We adhere to the most rigorous standards of instrument disinfection and sterilization advocated by OSHA/WISHA, the Centers for Disease Control, and the American Dental Association. We utilize autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate 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 their 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, please contact our office.

Will I Feel Pain During or After The Procedure?

Toothache pain is the main reason for patients seeking treatment. The purpose of a root canal procedure is to eliminate the cause of this pain. Fortunately, modern anesthetics can make the procedure pain-free in most cases. Seeking treatment early makes the procedure more comfortable. When identified early, treatment should feel no different than having a regular filling. For the first few days after treatment, there may be some soreness in the tissues surrounding the tooth, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. There can be sensitivity to biting pressure that slowly resolves over a period of 2 to 3 weeks. Often over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications (like Ibuprofen) are the best medication to manage the post-operative sensitivity. Other medications can be prescribed, but they are rarely required.

What New Technologies Are Being Used?

Surgical Microscope

The introduction of the surgical microscope has revolutionized the field of Endodontics. We have invested in the very best quality surgical microscopes, by Global Surgical, that provide unparalleled magnification and illumination for our endodontic procedures. Our success depends on us being able to see the smallest of details – you cannot treat what you cannot see.

Cone Beam CT

Our practice utilizes state-of-the-art, small volume cone-beam CT (computed tomography) technology that provides highly accurate, 3-D radiographic images for the diagnosis, planning, and treatment of endodontic disease. This allows three-dimensional visualization of teeth, bone, sinuses, and surrounding structures with minimal radiation to the patient, enabling a level of anatomical accuracy and patient care not possible with 2-D technologies (regular dental x-rays). With the addition of cone-beam CT technology to our office, our practice is committed to providing innovative, high-quality, patient care.

Digital Radiographs (X-rays)

Dr. Starley carefully chooses which and when radiographs are taken. There are many guidelines that we follow. Radiographs allow us to see everything we cannot see with our own eyes and enable us to detect cavities in between your teeth, determine bone level, and analyze the health of your bone. We can also examine the roots and canals of teeth, diagnose lesions such as cysts or tumors, as well as assess damage when trauma occurs.

Dental radiographs are invaluable aids in diagnosing, treating, and maintaining dental health. Exposure time for dental radiographs is extremely minimal. Inland Endodontics utilizes digital imaging technologies within the office. With digital imaging, exposure time is about 90% less when compared to traditional radiographs. Digital imaging can also help us retrieve valuable diagnostic information. We may be able to see cavities better.

Digital imaging allows us to store patient images and enables us to quickly and easily transfer them to specialists or insurance companies.