FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
An Endodontist is a dentist who has undergone a minimum of 2 years of extra postgraduate training. This Specialist training allows an Endodontist to deal with diseases of the dental pulp and supporting structures.
Your general dentist sometimes refers patients for consultation when the diagnosis is complicated or when treatment is more difficult than normal. Aside from providing treatment, Dr. Gustafson's role is also that of educator. It is important that patients understand why they require treatment, what treatment involves, and what they can do to ensure the best possible outcome. Dr. Gustafson believes that a properly informed patient has the best chance of achieving the optimal result.
Although General Dentists can perform Endodontic treatment, patients are often referred to an Endodontist when the case is complicated or more difficult than usual. In order to understand Endodontic treatment, it helps to know something about the anatomy of a tooth. Teeth have several layers. The outside layer of the tooth is composed of a hard layer called Enamel. Enamel is supported by an inner layer called Dentin, which has at its center a soft tissue known as the Pulp.
Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The most common reasons for inflammation or infection are deep cavities (caries), repeated dental procedures, cracks, or chips. Trauma can also cause inflammation and often shows up as discoloration of the tooth. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
The Endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the canal system, and then seals the prepared space. Most treatment is now performed in a single appointment ranging from 30-90 minutes (depending on the number of canals). Once treatment is completed, you may be instructed to return to your dentist for permanent reconstruction. The restoration of the tooth is an important part of treatment because it seals the cleaned canals from the oral environment, protects the tooth, and restores it to function.
Indications for treatment include prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth, swelling or tenderness of the tooth or adjacent gums. Sometimes there are no symptoms.
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 percent lower than those of already low dose conventional dental x-ray machinery. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to referring doctors via e-mail.
Toothache pain is the main reason for patients seeking treatment. Fortunately, modern anesthetics can make the procedure pain-free in most cases. Seeking treatment early makes the procedure more comfortable, so don't wait. When caught early, treatment should feel no different than having a regular filling. For the first few days after treatment, there may be some sensitivity to biting pressure, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. Sometimes over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications (like Ibuprofen and Tylenol) are recommended for a day or two.
Injuries to the mouth can cause teeth to be fractured, pushed out of position, or knocked out of their socket. Your dentist or endodontist may be able to reposition and stabilize the tooth, allowing it to heal. After the trauma, you will most likely require close follow-up by an endodontist. Our doctor will carefully assess the tooth over the following weeks to determine if your tooth will require further treatment. Our teeth often require root canal treatment 1-2 weeks after the trauma.
Some common types of cracks are superficial and require no intervention while other cracks can eventually lead to loss of your tooth. A cracked tooth can cause a wide variety of symptoms. The movement along the crack irritates the nerve of the tooth. If cracks and fractures are left untreated they can allow bacteria from your saliva to penetrate the tooth and cause infection.
At our office, we will thoroughly evaluate your tooth to determine if endodontic treatment is necessary. Sometimes a fractured tooth will only need the added protection of a crown, which would be done by your dentist.