Specialized training and advanced technology are making root canals faster and better. - Dr. Peter Chen, Advanced Endodontics
What exactly is a root canal and why does it have such an unfairly bad reputation? You’ll be surprised to find out that much has changed with root canals and it can be a pain-free procedure, allowing you to keep your natural teeth.
What is root canal therapy?
Root canal therapy, or endodontics, is a branch of dentistry concerned with the disease of the soft tissue inside a tooth. When a cavity or crack gets to the nerve of the tooth, it causes inflammation, which can cause debilitating pain. If left untreated, the nerve can die and cause infection of the bone, resulting in swelling of the jaw. This tends to happen at the most inconvenient times, like on vacation or at your daughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner.
The root canal system is a complex web of blood vessels, nerves, and lymphatics. For proper root canal therapy, complete disinfection of this system is required. The thorough cleansing of a molar root canal system is so complex that dental schools provide an extra two- to three-year program to train licensed dentists on the procedure. Dentists who only perform root canal therapies and have completed this extra training are called endodontists. They are your last line of defense in preserving your natural teeth.
A typical endodontist will perform between five to eight root canals a day. They hone their skills to find and remove complex nerve tissue through small openings inside a tooth. Beside doing root canals, endodontists are also skilled in reading radiographs for root tip infection. Because of this skill, they’re often asked to rule out tooth infection and clear patients for cancer or organ transplant treatment. They’re also a key player in consulting general dentists about treatment planning.
How has technology advanced root canal therapy?
Throughout the years as technology becomes more advanced, endodontists acquire equipment to make their procedures faster, more predictable, and more comfortable. For example, endodontists have adapted the surgical microscope used in ophthalmic and neurosurgery. This game changer allows the practitioner to actually “see” into the tooth and locate the canals rather than feeling for them in the dark.
Endodontists now have a specialized instrument to locate the end of the tooth to make sure all infected tissue is removed, helping ensure a successful procedure. Technology upgrades have allowed dentists to switch from film base to digital radiographs, which cuts down on the time and dosage of radiation needed. Moreover, in the last five years, imaging modalities have advanced allowing endodontists to view the tooth in 3D. This cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) imaging allows the practitioner to see precisely which teeth have infections and where the root canals are located inside the tooth.
All these advancements along with specialized training have made root canals much easier on patients and allow for the most optimal outcome. The goal of every endodontist is to help you retain your natural teeth so you can enjoy a beautiful smile!
Dr. Peter Chen graduated from Tufts Dental School. He’s also an alumnus of Harvard Dental School, where he’s been a part-time faculty member since 2004. Since establishing Advanced Endodontics in 2009, it has expanded with various locations across Central Florida. For more info, visit INeedARootCanal.com.
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