An endodontist is an expert in saving natural teeth. This is a type of dentist who specializes in the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of the dental pulp. Their main goal is to avoid extraction.
Endodontist vs. other dental specialists
An endodontist focuses on the health of the inside of your tooth. In fact, from Greek, “endo” means “from the inside” while “odont” refers to the tooth. Of all dentists, less than 3% are endodontists. The speciality requires 2-3 additional years of training after dental school.
You never know when an accident might happen. Endodontists often treat urgent cases, which means they offer more flexibility than other specialists. They can be referred to as weekend dentists. Endodontists may even accommodate patients during the holidays to relieve pain and save a tooth. Fast action is key.
Have a look at how endodontists compare to other dentists. Click the arrow to change the specialists around. You will be able to see the procedures they commonly perform, their education, who requires referral, and the average cost of treatment.
What do endodontics entail?
If your tooth requires endodontic treatment, it’s better to just get it over with. Waiting could mean keeping it will be impossible. Replacement options are often a lot more costly and no restoration is as durable and comfortable as having natural dentition.
Below you can read about the most common procedures performed by endodontists.
Root canal treatment
Root canal treatment is necessary when a tooth is contaminated. This is accompanied by severe pulsating pain. An endodontist will make an opening in the tooth, remove damaged tissue, and fill the dentition with biocompatible material. A crown may be placed to fully restore the tooth.
Endodontists are specialists in pain management. An RCT should not cause more discomfort than a cavity filling. What’s more, the whole thing can be over in as little as 2 appointments.
An RCT may not be enough to save a tooth. Your endodontist might then recommend surgery. This can help diagnose small fractures or previously unidentified canals that could be causing the problem.
If infection persists after a root canal treatment, you may need to have the tip of the root removed. This is referred to as root-end resection or apicoectomy. It is a minor surgical procedure performed under anesthesia. After the tip is extracted, the canal is sealed with a dental filling. Healing takes a few months.
Removing calcium deposits
An RCT may sometimes be difficult to do if the canals are sealed with calcium deposits. They are surgically removed in order to make treatment possible. This may be detected prior (with X-rays) or during your procedure.
Tooth root inspection
Diagnosing the problem may be impossible without a surgical procedure. If an RCT was performed and did not solve the issue, X-rays are performed again. At times even then, nothing of interest shows up. The endodontist may decide to open up the gums and jawbones and inspect the area manually.
Treatment of traumatic injuries
After root canals, emergency treatment is the most common type at an endodontist’s office. This specialist is the right one to go to when you suffer trauma to a tooth.
Chipped or fractured teeth
If a part of the tooth fell off or if it cracked, the endodontist will likely be able to fix it quickly. The part that has fallen off may be reattached. If it is unavailable, composite is used to fill up the gap. Root canal treatment may be needed if the injury extends to the pulp. In such a case a crown may be placed to restore the tooth.
If a tooth is pushed slightly out of or in toward the socket, the tooth needs to be repositioned and stabilized. You will probably need root canal treatment. Children aged 12 and below do not need it, as stem cells present in the pulp may heal and fight off infection.
A knocked-out tooth needs immediate attention. You best get to a dentist or endodontist within 30 minutes. The specialist will inspect the tooth, disinfect it if needed, and place it back into the socket if it can be saved. A dental splint may be used to stabilize it. There will be follow-up appointments to make sure the tooth is not infected or rejected.
Why choose an endodontist over a general dentist?
An endodontist has more experience when it comes to specific issues to do with the dental pulp. Their equipment is much more precise. An endodontist will conduct an RCT under a microscope, while general dentists may not. There is a bigger chance of successful treatment when you go to a specialist.
Nonetheless, just as you can go to a general doctor before going to a specialist, you can go to a general dentist before getting a referral to an endodontist.
Can I go straight to an endodontist or is a referral needed?
You can always make an appointment directly with an endodontist. It is a very good idea if you have suffered trauma to a tooth, as the case is urgent. Since a general dentist is your first contact, you can also contact him or her first. They will let you know whether a specialist is needed and provide a referral.
How does an endodontist test a tooth?
The first step will be an X-ray. After that, an endodontist will perform a dental pulp vitality test. This usually involves hot and cold stimuli to check whether the tooth reacts as a normal one would. Multiple teeth may be tested for comparison.
How much does endodontic treatment cost?
Endodontists may charge slightly more than a general dentist would. The average costs of root canal treatment in the US range from $1,000 up to $1,300. Most insurance policies cover endodontic treatment, at least in part.
Can an endodontist pull teeth?
Endodontists will do anything to save your tooth. If it is not possible, they can extract it. That is a last resort.