What is an Endodontist

505-988-ENDO (3636)

An Endodontist is a dentist with two or more years of advanced specialty training in the branch of dentistry concerned with the dental pulp and the tissue surrounding the root. We are part of your dental health team. We are an extension of your dentist's skill, care and judgment. We offer state-of-the-art Endodontic care and we are specially trained to provide Root Canal Treatment comfortably and predictably.

Reasons for visiting an Endodontist

Endodontic treatment (or Root Canal Therapy) is performed to save the natural tooth. In spite of the many advanced restorations available, most dentists agree that there is no substitute for healthy, natural teeth.

Here are some of the main causes of inner tooth damage:

Bacterial infections – Oral bacteria is the most common cause of endodontic problems. Bacteria invade the tooth pulp through tiny fissures in the teeth caused by tooth decay or injury. The resulting inflammation and bacterial infection jeopardize the affected tooth and may cause an abscess to form.

Fractures and chips – When a large part of the surface or crown of the tooth has become completely detached, root canal therapy may be required. The removal of the crown portion leaves the pulp exposed, which can be debilitating, painful and problematic.

Injuries – Injuries to the teeth can be caused by a direct or indirect blow to the mouth area. Some injuries cause a tooth to become luxated, or dislodged from its socket. Root canal therapy is often needed after the Endodontist has successfully stabilized the injured tooth.

Removals – If a tooth has been knocked clean out of the socket, it is important to rinse it and place it back into the socket as quickly as possible. If this is impossible, place the tooth in special dental solution (available at pharmacies) or in milk. These steps will keep the inner mechanisms of the tooth moist and alive while emergency dental treatment is sought. The tooth will be affixed in its socket using a special splint, and the endodontist will then perform root canal therapy to save the tooth.

What does an Endodontic procedure involve?

Root Canal Therapy usually takes between one and three visits to complete. Complete Radiographs of the teeth will be taken and examined before the treatment begins. If you already have your own radiographs, please bring them to your appointment. We will likely still need to take our own radiographs using our Endodontic-specific systems. We use the Aribex Nomad hand-held dental X-ray with a digital sensor. This decreases the radiation significantly and is the least amount of radiation possible for dental X-rays. Diagnostic testing of the affected area is also performed to confirm the correct diagnosis and offending tooth.

All procedures at Santa Fe Endodontics are performed using a Dental Operating Microscope. This provides the Endodontist with the best possible visibility and lighting to see the Root Canal anatomy of your tooth. It is helpful in location of canals as well as identification of fractures, which are critical to the success of your Root Canal Therapy

Initially, a local anesthetic will be administered, and a dental dam (protective sheet) will be placed to ensure that the surgical area remains free of saliva during the treatment. An opening will be created in the biting surface of the tooth, and the pulp will be completely removed using small handheld instruments.

The space will now be shaped, cleaned and filled with gutta-percha. Gutta-percha is a biocompatible material that is somewhat similar to rubber. Cement will be applied on top to ensure that the root canals are completely sealed off. At that time either a temporary filling or permanent filling will be placed, depending on the preference of your restorative dentist. You will then return to your general dentist for crown placement to protect your tooth. 

Failure to return to your dentist in a timely manner may result in recurrent infection of the root canal, tooth fracture or pain. Dr. Palermo, in coordination with your general dentist, will advise you when you need to have a crown or permanent restoration placed. 

For more information regarding Endodontists and Endodontics (Root Canal Therapy) please visit the American Association of Endodontists

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