Taking care of your teeth and mouth is necessary if you wish to enjoy good oral health and improve your general wellbeing. Your teeth perform several functions, among them chewing, biting, and giving you a beautiful smile. If they are not well-taken care of, you might miss out on one or more of these functions. Bacteria is a threat to your teeth, oral, and general health. It affects all areas of your mouth, including your gums, teeth, and jawbone, and could even spread to the rest of your body.

Once your teeth are infected, you start experiencing pain as the bacteria damages them from the inside. If bacteria growth is not stopped through treatment, you might end up losing one or more teeth.

Endodontics is an integral part of dentistry. It deals with tooth pain, infections, and diseases. It is the field of dentistry that includes all the special procedures you need to save a decayed or severely infected tooth. If you are experiencing tooth pain or any form of discomfort in Carson, CA, talk to us at Washington Dental. Our specially trained and experienced endodontists will provide proper diagnosis and treatment to improve your oral health and general wellbeing.

Endodontic Overview

Human teeth are designed to be strong, functional, and beautiful. That is the way they can serve their function better. Strong teeth are suitable for chewing and biting. Functional teeth will allow you to chew your food and keep your face in good shape. Beautiful teeth will give you the confidence you need to smile and enjoy life.

However, natural teeth are prone to damage, mainly from some of the foods we consume. Sweets and sticky candies, carbonated drinks, starchy foods, and substances that dry your mouth are some of those substances that damage your teeth.

Dentists recommend some excellent oral habits meant to keep your teeth and mouth in good health. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once a day is the most common of these oral habits. You also need to visit your dentist regularly for a general dental checkup and cleaning, just to be sure that your teeth, gums, and bones are in good health.

However, these oral habits could be challenging to keep. It is also a challenge to stay away from some of those harmful foods. For instance, when you fail to brush your teeth and floss as regularly as you should, the bacteria inside your mouth combine with the remaining food particles to produce a dangerous acid that could wreak havoc inside your mouth. It will start destroying your teeth bit by bit, and before you know it, so many of your teeth have dental decay. The harmful bacteria also affect other structures inside your mouth, including your gums and tissues.

Other than dental decay, traumatic injury to the mouth is another cause of teeth problems. If you fall hard on your face or are involved in a car accident in which your face was severely injured, your teeth will most likely be affected. A traumatic injury could fracture your teeth, loosen or cause them to fall off. All these are serious dental injuries that should be addressed immediately to restore your oral health.

Most of these dental problems are characterized by pain and discomfort. Dental decay will start with pain in the affected tooth. Dentists recommend seeking immediate help whenever you experience pain or discomfort in your teeth. Most dental problems affecting your teeth fall under endodontics.

Endodontics is a specialty of dentistry that deals with toothaches, tooth infections, and diseases. General dentists are not well-equipped to handle specific dental issues like these. Therefore, you’ll have to see an endodontist for the proper diagnosis and treatment of tooth pain and its underlying cause.

Who Provides Endodontic Treatment?

Severe tooth pain can control your life. You cannot eat, sleep or even perform your daily chores. It helps to have it checked as soon as possible. A highly trained endodontist is the right person to see for the best diagnosis and treatment. He/she will examine your tooth to determine the cause of the pain, the proper treatment, and anything else that will be needed to save your natural tooth.

An endodontist is a specially-trained dentist whose area of specialization is inside your tooth, called the tooth pulp. The inside of a human tooth has nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues that should be well protected if you wish to maintain healthy and functional teeth. If not, your tooth pulp can easily be infected and inflamed due to tooth decay, or trauma, causing you problems that only an endodontist can handle.

Any form of irritation on your tooth pulp will manifest in toothache or tooth sensitivity. Sometimes it is easy to ignore the pain or sensitivity when it is not too much. However, mild pain and sensitivity on your teeth are only indicators of a problem that can quickly get out of hand.

An endodontist is not your regular dentist. He/she has acquired specialized training to handle some of the dental problems a regular dentist cannot. Dentists who become endodontists receive more training and experience. It enables them to focus on more complex dental issues that mainly affect the pulp. Endodontists rely on more than their skills and experience to offer effective diagnosis and treatment. They use high-level tools and techniques to manage issues affecting your root tissues and dental pulp. Their focus is on relieving you of the pain and sensitivity while at the same time saving natural teeth.

The greatest enemy of your tooth pulp is improper teeth and gum care. As previously mentioned, there are oral health habits you must abide by at all times to ensure that your teeth, gums, and entire mouth is clean every day. Some food particles remain in the mouth when you eat, some on and others in between your teeth. If you don’t maintain good oral habits like regular brushing and flossing your teeth, the remaining food particles will combine with the bacteria in the mouth to cause infection. A cracked tooth is prone to infections, too, especially if the crack goes beyond the areas that are easy to reach while brushing your teeth. An infected or inflamed tooth pulp, commonly called pulpitis, is the cause of the many endodontic issues you’re likely to experience today. Pulpitis will cause painful toothache and sensitivity and lead to serious health problems requiring urgent medical treatment.

What Do Endodontists Do?

The most common endodontic procedure is the root canal. That is why endodontists are occasionally referred to as root canal dentists. However, a root canal is not the only procedure these specialized dentists perform. Even a general dentist can perform a root canal procedure. However, in a setting where specialized treatment is recognized, an endodontist is likely to perform these procedures more often. In addition, the extra training endodontists acquire after general dentistry training gives them more skills to perform these and many other procedures better than a general dentist.

As previously mentioned, the main area of specialization for endodontists is tooth pulp. An endodontist’s job is to diagnose and treat complex cases of toothaches. For this, they recommend a wide range of treatment options, including dental surgeries. Some of these treatments are:

Endodontic Treatment

Endodontic treatment involves removing the infected or damaged pulp of the affected tooth or teeth. During this treatment, the endodontist will carefully clean the affected area inside the tooth, shape the inside of the affected tooth and then prepare to fill it up. It could also involve removing and replacing root canal materials previously used and didn’t heal properly. The cause of your tooth pain determines the exact mode of treatment.

Emergency Dental Surgery

You might need immediate dental surgery if your endodontist realizes that you have incurred severe dental injuries that require intensive repair. Emergency dental surgery is also required to treat severe teeth infections.

Tooth Extraction Surgery

Pulling out a tooth might sound like a simple procedure, but it is not always so. Sometimes your dentist can conduct tooth extraction in his/her office without requiring you to undergo a complex procedure. However, if your gum tissues are severely damaged, an endodontist will be needed to perform the extraction. A careful surgical procedure will ensure the successful removal of the damaged tooth, thereby saving the already damaged tissues.

Dental Implant Surgery

The placement of dental implants is done through a complicated surgical procedure that only a well-trained dentist would do. An endodontist is a specialist that deals with procedures like this to create support for prosthetics like dental bridges. The goal is to restore the functionality and look of an extracted tooth. If a tooth is severely damaged, it may be impossible to save. Your endodontist might recommend extraction, then offer a solution that will give you an exact look, feel, and functionality of a natural tooth.

Endodontic Surgery

Instead of endodontic treatment, your endodontist might recommend specialized surgery. An example of endodontic surgery is an apicoectomy, which removes the tip or end of a damaged tooth’s root. The procedure is mainly done to save a tooth that is at a higher risk of severe damage. It also prevents potential serious complications that could affect your general wellbeing.

Dental Problems that Require Endodontic Treatment

Endodontics is mainly concerned with the health of your tooth’s pulp, and all the interior tissues, and damaged root tissues as a result of the following:

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay refers to damage on the surface of a tooth or enamel. The leading cause of tooth decay is bacteria in your mouth, which, when combined with remaining food particles, produce acids that attack the enamel. The enamel of your teeth is usually very strong. But it has its limits. Once those acids start eating away the enamel, your natural tooth starts to decay, leading to cavities. Cavities are the resulting holes when tooth decay is not treated on time. They cause toothaches, sensitivity and could result in infections and, eventually, tooth loss.

Tooth/Dental Abscess

A tooth or dental abscess refers to a pocket of pus that develops when harmful bacteria penetrate your tooth or gum. It causes moderate to severe throbbing pain near the affected tooth and gums. Specialized treatment is needed to clean out the affected area of the bacteria and stop its spread. Your endodontist will also aim at relieving your pain. If a dental abscess is not treated right away, it causes more damage to your teeth. You might end up losing the infected tooth.

Tooth Injuries

Traumatic injuries are among the leading causes of tooth injuries. You are likely to suffer a tooth injury in a car accident or after a slip and fall. After a hard fall on your head or face, one or more of your teeth could fracture, loosen up or fall out. Your endodontist will recommend treatment based on the kind of tooth injury you have incurred. If your tooth is severely fractured and cannot be salvaged, the best treatment could be extraction, followed by an implant. If only a small part of the tooth was lost, your endodontist might recommend a treatment that will save your natural tooth.

Cracked Tooth

A general dentist can easily treat a cracked tooth using treatment methods like dental crowns, veneers, or bonding. However, if the crack extends to the pulp tissue, it might require more specialized treatment. An endodontist would be the right person to offer treatment in this case because the affected parts of the tooth are areas of specialization for endodontists. Some of the treatment options your endodontist would recommend are root canal or dental implants.

Endodontics Testing

Endodontists’ special training enables them to diagnose even the most complicated causes of oral, facial, and tooth pain. However, simple checkups alone are not enough to help them diagnose the exact cause of your pain to offer an effective treatment. Your endodontist might have to run some tests to check your signs and establish the real cause of your pain. Some of these tests include:

Dental X-Ray

An X-ray on the affected tooth will capture precise details of the internal structures of your tooth to determine the exact problem and its location. In addition, an endodontist will need an X-ray to determine the location of the infection on your tooth and how much it has spread.

Cold or Hot Swabs

Sensitivity is another indication of a problem with your teeth. It could be a challenge for you to determine the sensitive tooth, but your endodontist can. Using a cold or hot swab, your endodontist will touch all your teeth to test for sensitivity. This way, he/she can determine the teeth that are already infected.

Tapping the Tooth

Tapping different teeth is another way to test for sensitivity. The teeth that are sensitive to the tapping are most likely infected. Tapping could also help determine how much infection has spread from one tooth to the rest of your teeth. Remember that inflammation starts with one tooth, and then it gradually spreads to the rest.

Common Endodontic Procedures

Endodontic procedures refer to all treatment procedures involving the inner tissues of your teeth. As previously mentioned, your tooth is not just the outer enamel that you see and feel. It has nerves, blood vessels, and tissues inside it that could easily be affected if a dangerous bacteria infected your tooth. Endodontic procedures are more concerned with those inner structures than the outer enamel. The most common of these procedures involve cleaning out infections on the affected tooth to save the natural tooth. They include:

Root Canal

Root canal treatment is recommended for cracked or fractured teeth, teeth with deep cavities, or issues from a previous filling. You might need a root canal if you are experiencing pain or sensitivity in one or more teeth.

Root canal treatment is the most common endodontic procedure. During the procedure, an endodontist removes the injured or diseased pulp tissue from the affected tooth. Removing the infected or inflamed tissue will give you instant relief from pain. It also removes the bacteria that might cause more damage to the tooth, other teeth, and to the different parts of your body.

The procedure is performed under local anesthesia. Endodontists use sophisticated tools and an operating microscope to repair damaged tissues in a tooth. First, you will be required to lie flat on your back comfortably. You’ll then be given local anesthesia. It will numb the inside part of your mouth to reduce pain and discomfort.

Your endodontist will then place a dental dam over the affected tooth to separate the infected area from the rest and protect your other teeth and mouth from the infection.

Your endodontist will then access the pulp tissue of the infected tooth to determine the extent of the damage. He/she will remove the diseased or damaged pulp tissue, clean up and disinfect the inside of the tooth, and seal or fill it up.

An Apicoectomy

It is also a simple surgical procedure performed by an endodontist for the treatment of infected tooth pulp. The procedure is mainly geared towards saving a severely damaged tooth and preventing severe complications resulting from the tooth being left untreated.

An apicoectomy or root-end surgery involves removing the root tip and surrounding tissues of the infected tooth. The procedure could also be performed on teeth with a root canal but have an infection or residual inflammation near their root tip that goes into the jawbone.

The procedure can be invasive. Therefore, you might need local anesthesia to take care of any discomfort and pain during treatment. Once you’ve been given local anesthesia, your endodontist will cut through your gum and push the tissues aside to reach the root. He/she then removes a small part of the root and any infected tissues surrounding the root.

Your endodontist will then clean up the entire area and fill it up to prevent more infection. Finally, he/she will suture the tissue to allow your gum to heal and grow back into place.

What To Expect After Endodontic Treatment

How you’ll feel after treatment is mainly based on the type of procedure you have undergone and the severity of the issue you were experiencing. Most of these procedures are performed on the same day. You are allowed to go back home after the procedure is done.

You can expect some discomfort but not too much that it might be impossible to go back to your day-to-day life. However, your mouth may still hurt for a few more days after the procedure.

Your endodontist will prescribe some medications to relieve your pain and fight infections. He/she will also give you a list of instructions to follow for quick and effective healing. For instance, you might need to change your diet a little bit to avoid overworking your teeth, especially the treated teeth, for a specific period. You’ll also be required to be a little gentle when brushing or flossing your teeth. However, good oral habits are highly recommended to keep away food particles in the treated area.

It is essential to follow up with your dentist after endodontic treatment to ensure that the treated part is healing well. In case you experience pain or discomfort during the healing period, go back to your dentist’s office immediately and have it checked.

Find an Endodontist Near Me

If you experience a persistent toothache that doesn’t seem to go away even with pain medication, it is advisable to have that checked by a dentist. A regular dentist will examine your teeth, gums, bone, and mouth to determine the cause of your pain. If you have a severely injured tooth/teeth, the problem could be in your tooth pulp, thereby requiring specialized treatment. At Washington Dental, our highly skilled and experienced endodontists have all the necessary tools to treat any endodontic problem you might be experiencing. If you need help in Carson, CA, call us at 310-217-1507. Let us provide the best diagnosis and treatment that will restore your oral health.