Endodontics is a specialist type of dentistry that focuses on the soft pulp in the roots of your teeth.
This pulp is essential for the development of each tooth, and once the tooth is fully grown, the pulp tends to decrease in size. Normally, you won’t ever need to think about this soft tissue in your tooth roots, but should it become inflamed or infected, your dentist may perform a root canal treatment.
That’s why endodontics is so often synonymous with root canals, and why it’s such an important part of dentistry in keeping your teeth healthy.
What does Endodontics involve?
Endodontics involves looking at the soft tissue inside the tooth. This includes the root of each tooth, the pulp inside the tooth, as well as the nerves and surrounding tissue.
Ideally, you’ll never have to think about this part of your tooth, but it is possible for these soft tissues to become infected, or even die off. When the pulp becomes infected like this, it is known as pulpitis, and some mild cases can be reversible with care and medication, but severe cases are irreversible.
When this happens, it can result in severe dental pain and sensitivity. You will likely notice very quickly and will need to make an immediate appointment with your dentist.
Usually, these infections occur due to tooth decay and cavities. Normally, your dentist will give you a dental filling to repair these cavities, but if the decay is too close to the nerve, or goes into the nerve, further treatment may be required. Other causes include fractured teeth and injuries.
For cases of irreversible pulpitis (when the nerve of the tooth is irreversibly inflamed from decay or trauma), it is likely that your Dentist will recommend a root canal treatment. This treatment removes the infected (or dead) soft tissue, cleans out the root of the affected tooth, and replaces it with a durable, sterile material.
Without root canal treatment you risk more pain, further infection that can spread to the surrounding areas and bone, and losing the tooth. Therefore, a root canal will help to save your natural tooth and ensure continued functionality and a full, healthy smile.
What does an endodontist do?
An endodontist is a dentist with additional skills and training in endodontics.
This means they know how to examine and treat problems relating to the soft tissues inside your tooth.
The majority of an endodontist’s work involves performing root canals, where they remove the infected or dead soft tissue inside a tooth and replace it with a permanent filler.
While a dentist may do the occasional root canal amongst other work such as fillings and cleanings, an endodontist will spend much more time doing root canals. They will often work on difficult cases where the cause of pain is difficult to ascertain, or where a root canal is especially complicated or challenging.
To see an endodontist, you will usually need a referral from your general dentist.
What are the advantages of receiving Endodontic treatment?
There are multiple key benefits to receiving endodontic treatment such as a root canal:
- Remove the source of pain:
When the pulp in your tooth becomes infected, it can be extremely painful. Having a root canal treatment removes the source of that pain.
- Save your natural tooth:
Without a root canal, the infection in the soft tissue in your tooth can get worse, and you could lose your natural tooth.
- Avoid more invasive treatments:
Despite its bad reputation, a root canal is akin to a large filling. However without one, you may end up needing a dental implant or other tooth replacement procedure, which is more invasive than a simple root canal.
How much does an Endodontic treatment cost?
The cost of a root canal in Australia typically ranges from $900 to $1,600, depending on the complexity of the treatment (some teeth have more roots than others!), and other factors.
For a more accurate quote, speak to your endodontist about your specific treatment needs.
Also, keep in mind that you may need a dental crown for any teeth that receive a root canal for added strength. You won’t need to get this until a little later down the track, but you may wish to keep the cost in mind when budgeting.
What to expect from your Endodontic appointment
Here’s what to expect from a root canal treatment:
- Eat a good meal and brush your teeth before treatment, as your mouth will be numb for a while afterwards
- Your dental professional will numb the area with a local anaesthetic
- They will then drill a small hole into the top of the tooth
- The next step is for them to remove all of the infected pulp and clean the inside of the tooth and its roots
- This part takes the longest, as much as 20-30 minutes
- Once the tooth is clean, the dentist will fill the space with a sterile filling known as Gutta Percha, then finish with a standard dental filling
- The whole treatment takes 60 - 90 minutes, however usually this is performed over a few appointments
- You will typically feel numb for a few hours, and tender for a few days
- You will need to return for a follow up appointment to check on the root canal, and to determine the next steps, which often involves a dental crown
If your dentist has suggested the cause of pain or discomfort in your mouth is due to an endodontic related issue, you may want to ask for a referral from a specialist who can talk you through your options.
Find your nearest dental practice and get in touch today to schedule an appointment.