If you have been referred to us by your general dentist it is likely that your endodontic treatment requires specialist care. You may be experiencing pain when eating hot or cold foods/drinks, pain on chewing, throbbing aching or shooting pain, swelling in area surrounding a tooth or teeth. Endodontic treatment is likely to resolve your symptoms provided they are of tooth‐related origin. Sometimes you may have no symptoms at all, which is why regular examinations are so important.
Endodontic treatment (root canal treatment) may become necessary when the pulp is inflamed or infected. There can be a variety of causes of pulpal inflammation or infection, the most common being decay (caries). However, other things such as extensive and repeated dental treatment or cracks in the tooth that allow bacteria to get into the pulp can cause pulpal disease. Knocks to the teeth or supporting tissues can also cause damage that may not be obvious but can cause problems. Left untreated, this pulpal inflammation or infection can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
Endodontic treatment aims to create an environment inside the tooth to allow the infection to heal and keep the tooth symptom free. We make this environment as sterile as possible by removing bacteria and infected tissue debris to the tip of the root. We then fill this space with a root filling material.
Once your root canal treatment is completed, you will return to your dentist, for the final restoration to protect and restore it to full function. As such, you retain your natural tooth, for which often there is no substitute.
What is an Endodontist?
An Endodontist is a dentist who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries of the pulp (tissues inside the tooth) and periapical (surrounding) tissues of the teeth.
In Australia, Endodontists are required to undergo a minimum of an extra three years advanced postgraduate university study and are registered with the Dental Board of Australia. General dentists are able to perform routine endodontic treatments. However, if the treatment is more complex your dentist may refer you to an Endodontist. The type of work that an Endodontist carries out includes:
Diagnosis and treatment of pain related to the teeth
Diagnosis and management of orofacial pain (pain in the face, mouth, nose, ears, eyes, neck, and head)
Root canal treatment and re-treatment of previously treated cases
Management of trauma to the teeth and their surrounding tissues (periapical tissues)
To better understand why endodontic treatment is performed, it helps to know a little about the anatomy of the tooth. Teeth may look simple but in fact are a complex system of specialised structures.