THE ENDODONTIC specialty in dentistry is shrouded in mystery for a lot of people. As a result, we tend to hear a lot of the same questions from our patients. We’re here to head those off with a Q and A session. If we leave out any of yours, make sure to bring them along to your next appointment!
Question 1: What makes endodontists different from other dentists?
In the same way that not all fruits are apples but all apples are fruits, not all dentists are endodontists but all endodontists are dentists. Not even 3% of dentists will undergo the additional study and training it takes to become an endodontist, which is why it’s so important to see an endodontist for root canal treatment. We’re the specialists!
Question 2: What is the focus of endodontics?
A hint lies in the etymology of the word. In Greek, “endo” means “inside” and “odont” means “tooth.” Endodontics focuses specifically on the pulp inside of teeth and the tissues around a tooth’s roots. “Endodontic treatment” can be used interchangeably with “root canal treatment.” We focus on treating tooth infections and diseases of the pulp tissue.
Question 3: What does it mean to “save” a tooth?
Throughout history, the vast majority of tooth infections led to a pulled tooth. Thanks to endodontics, pulling teeth is now a last resort. The point of endodontic treatment is to remove the diseased dental pulp instead of removing the entire tooth. Even the most advanced modern prosthodontics can’t make a fake tooth that does a better job than your natural tooth. This is why we fight so hard to save teeth from extraction.
Question 4: How will I know if I need a root canal?
In most cases, the patient won’t be the one who decides it’s root canal time. They are most often referred to us by the general dentist. Sometimes, however, a patient may develop symptoms that will likely lead to an endodontist appointment:
- Temperature sensitivity in a particular tooth.
- Aching, throbbing, or pressure in the tooth.
- Pain or discomfort while biting down.
- Swelling in the jaw or gums.
- A fractured tooth.
Question 5: Is it true that root canal treatment is painful?
This is an incredibly persistent myth left over from past generations, but it doesn’t apply to modern endodontic treatment. An infected tooth can be extremely painful, but the treatment is what relieves that pain. Patient comfort is one of our highest priorities.
Come to Us With Your Endodontics Questions!
If we missed one of your questions, let us know! Patient education is one of our top priorities, as it’s a crucial way to build patient confidence. If you have a burning question about endodontic treatment that we didn’t answer for you here, give us a call!