Endodontic FAQ

What is endodontics?

faqEndodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. While root canals have been treated for generations, it was not until 1963 when endodontics became officially recognized as a dental specialty. Endodontics is a branch of dentistry involved in the treatment of the pulp (root canal) and surrounding tissues of the tooth. When you look at your tooth in the mirror, what you see is the crown. The rest of the tooth, the portion hidden beneath the gum line, is called the root. Though the outer portion of the root is a hard tissue called dentin, the inside channel or “root canal” contains a pulp of soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems, can severely damage the pulp. When that happens, an endodontic specialist removes the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform and feel like a natural tooth.

I’m worried about x-rays. Should I be?

No. While x-rays may be necessary before, during and after your endodontic treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography.  Digital x-rays produce radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of already low dose conventional dental x-ray machinery. In fact, you will receive more radiation while spending a day at the beach than you will in our office.  Our digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to other dentists via e-mail or disc. For more information on our digital x-rays system, please contact Schick Technologies, Inc.

What about infection?

Again, there’s no need for concern. We adhere to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association. We utilize autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection. Our concern about infection is what may be occurring in and around your tooth – not from our sterilized instruments and clean office.

What happens after root canal treatment?

When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your general restorative dentist. You should contact their office to obtain an appointment for a permanent restoration within 3-4 weeks of root canal completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment, retreatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, however, we are available to respond.

What new technologies are being used?

Operating Microscopes:

microscopeIn addition to digital radiography, we utilize special operating microscopes. Magnification and fiber optic illumination are helpful in aiding the doctor to see tiny details inside your tooth. Also, a tiny video camera on the operating microscope can record images of your tooth to further document the doctor’s findings. These photos can also provide valuable education to the patient as well as assist the general dentist with their restorative decisions.

Sample Of Increasing Microscopic Magnification:

Fiber Optic Light

optic-lightWhenever high-power magnification is utilized, additional light becomes necessary. Our procedural field is illuminated using fiber optic light originating from a metal halide light bulb. Additionally, we have extra fiber optic light sources available to provide more light should it be required.

Apex Locators

In an effort to reduce the number of x-rays needed during treatment, we utilize a piece of equipment specifically designed to electronically measure the length of your tooth. It is completely painless and helps us obtain very accurate measurements.


Another part of the technology in our office is the ultrasonic unit. It is a very versatile piece of equipment. Often used in conjunction with the microscope, the ultrasonic unit assists the doctors in locating tiny, calcified canals, remove posts, better clean canal systems, remove fractured or separated instruments and even assist with microsurgery, if needed.