Endodontics Overview: Root Canal Treatment Explained

Gentle Dental

dental and endodontic instruments on the napkin. Top view

Endodontists specialize in preserving teeth that have become damaged or diseased. Here’s some helpful information to help you understand what happens during an endodontic treatment.

Endodontics Definition

Endodontics is derived from the Greek words “endo,” which means “inside” and “odont,” which means tooth. More specifically, it is a dental specialty that focuses on the treatment of dental pulp. This pulp exists within the center of a tooth and is comprised of living connective tissue and special cells known as odontoblasts. Through endodontic procedures, dental specialists attempt to preserve tooth function by treating or removing these tissues and cells as necessary.

What Is an Endodontist?

An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in endodontic procedures. Every dentist receives some amount of training in endodontic diagnosis and therapy. That said, in especially difficult cases, dentists will refer patients to endodontic specialists, who can then determine the best ways to preserve tooth function.

In addition to traditional dental school, an endodontist will have received two or more years of advanced education in endodontic diagnosis and therapy. He or she will also have studied modern root canal procedures in great depth, and will have the ability to treat even the most difficult cases.

What Happens During Endodontic Treatment?

During an endodontic treatment, or “root canal,” a patient receives local anesthetic to numb the affected area. A sheet of latex, or “rubber dam,” is then used to isolate the tooth to keep it dry and clean during treatment. Next, the endodontist will use small tools to open the top portion of the tooth and gain access to its insides. He or she will then use small files to clear out diseased or damaged pulp. The endodontist will also use files to reshape the tooth’s inner chamber.

At this point, the endodontist may use water to wash out remaining pulp. He or she may also apply an antimicrobial solution to kill any bacteria. Once everything is clean, a rubber-like material is used to fill the chamber. Afterward, a temporary filling is used to close the tooth. After a few weeks, a permanent crown is used to cap the tooth and restore normal chewing function.

How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?

Like all dental procedures, costs can vary based on the local endodontist and region. In most cases, however, root canals cost about $900 for a single molar and $700 for a front tooth.

Will I Need Further Treatment?

After endodontic therapy, patients require periodic examination to ensure proper healing. Rarely, an endodontic treatment will prove unsuccessful, and a patient will still experience pain. Many times, a second endodontic treatment can be used to preserve the tooth. In severe instances, however, an endodontic treatment cannot save a tooth, and extraction becomes necessary.