A LOT OF PEOPLE don’t know very much about the the dental specialty of endodontics, which means that we tend to hear a lot of the same questions from our patients. Let’s head some of those off with a quick Q-and-A session, but make sure you bring any questions we don’t cover here to your next appointment!
1. How are endodontists different from dentists?
Not all fruits are apples, but all apples are fruits. It’s the same with endodontists: not all dentists are endodontists, but all endodontists are dentists. Fewer than 3% of dentists undergo the additional study and training to become endodontists. That’s why it’s better to see an endodontist for root canal treatment. We’re the specialists!
2. What is endodontics all about?
You can get a good hint from the etymology of the word, which comes from Greek. “Endo” means “inside” and “odont” means “tooth.” The field of endodontics is a dental specialty that focuses specifically on the tissues around a tooth’s roots and the pulp inside it. The term “endodontic treatment” is interchangeable with root canal treatment, and it’s about treating infections and disease in the pulp tissue.
3. What do endodontists mean when they say they save teeth?
Before the endodontic specialty developed, there wasn’t much that could be done for an infected tooth except pulling it. At a modern endodontic practice, however, we can remove the diseased dental pulp and seal off the tooth so that it doesn’t have to be removed. Nothing can do a better job of acting like a tooth than your actual tooth! That’s why it’s so important to save teeth and why we love what we do so much.
4. What are the signs that root canal treatment is needed?
Most of the time, the patient isn’t the one who decides it’s time for a root canal; instead, they’re referred to a specialist by their general dentist. However, there are a few symptoms that are likely to lead to an appointment with the endodontist:
- Throbbing, aching, or a feeling of pressure in a tooth
- Temperature sensitivity in the tooth
- Pain or discomfort while biting down
- Fractured tooth
- Swelling in the jaw or gums
5. I’ve heard that root canal treatment is painful. Is that true?
An infected tooth can be very painful, but treating it actually relieves that pain. The inaccurate idea that root canal treatment causes pain is one leftover from decades ago when endodontics wasn’t as advanced as it is now, and it doesn’t help that we still use expressions like “I’d rather have a root canal!” when talking about unpleasant things. Patient comfort is one of our highest priorities.
Bring Us Any Other Questions You Have!
We don’t want any of our patients to worry over unanswered questions. Patient education is a great step towards patient confidence. If we haven’t covered your questions here, don’t hesitate to contact us and ask away!