Frequently Asked Questions

What is endodontics?

"Endo" is the Greek word for "inside" and "odont" is Greek for "tooth". Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth. Endodontics can be defined as the branch of dentistry concerned with the morphology (shape), Physiology (function) and pathology (disease) of the human dental pulp (the tooth nerve) and the tooth supporting tissues. Its study and practice encompass the basic and clinical sciences including the biology of the normal pulp along with the causes, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries of the pulp and the tooth's supporting structures.

What is endodontic treatment?

Endodontic treatment is a procedure carried out to preserve a tooth that may otherwise require extraction. It involves two main stages, which are usually carried out over two main visits. In the first visit, the tooth will be numbed with local anaesthetic before the tooth is isolated with the dental dam. The dental dam protects your tooth from getting contaminated with saliva from the mouth. A small opening is made in the crown part of the tooth (or cap or satisfactory existing filling), which allows direct access into the pulp space. The root canals are then identified, cleaned and shaped using small files. The canal space is also frequently flushed with several disinfectants and medicated to remove or eradicate bacteria. This is usually the first stage of root canal treatment. The second stage involves gaining access into the canals again to flush the medication out. Then the canals are sealed and the tooth cavity is repaired with a permanent filling. In some situations the entire root canal treatment (stage one and two) can be completed in one visit. Other teeth require several appointments to complete. You will be advised on the number of appointments required to complete your treatment at the consultation appointment.

The tooth is reviewed between six to twelve months after the treatment is completed to monitor the progress of healing. The majority of root filled back teeth require a crown or cap after endodontic treatment to protect the tooth and the filling from breaking.

What are the signs of needing endodontic treatment?

Pain is the main sign of your body telling you that there is something wrong. In addition to pain, lingering temperature sensitivity to hot or cold is also common. Other signs include pain or tenderness to touch or when chewing on the tooth, discoloration of the tooth, swelling and drainage from the gum tissues. In some cases no obvious physical signs or symptoms can be seen or experienced and the problem is accidentally discovered during routine dental examination.

What are the advantages of saving my natural tooth?

There are several advantages of saving natural teeth including:
*Proper function, appearance and ability to talk.
*Natural teeth maintain the height, thickness and shape of your jawbone.
*Loss of a single tooth that is surrounded by natural teeth would allow the adjacent teeth to move into the space created by the extracted tooth. That can create problems with the bite or open spaces between the adjacent teeth that may contribute to gum disease.

Why do I need to see an Endodontist?

All dentists are trained to carry out endodontic procedures. Some teeth however are more difficult to treat than others. So if your dentist feels that the level of difficulty requires specialist skills and experience then you will be offered to see an endodontist for an opinion or further treatment.

Common reasons for referral are:
*Diagnosis of difficult problems when the presentation of a particular problem is not very clear.
*Calcified or very small canal.
*Long and very curved roots.
*Teeth with an unusual anatomy.
*Teeth that continue to cause pain during and after endodontic treatment.
*Teeth with unsuccessful previous endodontic treatment (endodontic retreatment).
*Surgical endodontic treatment. Endodontic surgery is a title for various different surgical procedures that Endodontists are trained to perform.
*Management of teeth damaged in a traumatic accident. These injuries are quite common, particularly in children, and can be complex to treat.

What will happen if I am referred to an endodontist?

You usually need an initial consultation as appropriate treatment options can only be considered after a detailed mouth examination, x-rays and other tests in order to reach a diagnosis. You can expect to be advised what the problem is, your treatment options, the costs involved and the likelihood of achieving a successful outcome. In some cases and if enough information is supplied by your referring Dentist and if your tooth is treatable, then the treatment can be commenced at the same appointment. The office receptionist will advise you if this is an option in your case.

How many appointments are necessary?

Endodontic treatment is usually completed over two visits. In some cases it could be completed in one session. Other teeth require several appointments to complete. The number of appointments required will be discussed with you at the initial consultation and before commencing the treatment.

Does endodontic treatment hurt?

Root canal procedure is usually carried out under local anaesthetic. Most root canal procedures can be completed with no or very minimal discomfort. When tissues are very inflamed causing severe toothache, achieving adequate pain control would require more than one method or technique for administering local anaesthetic to achieve good pain control.

Will there be pain after the procedure?

The majority of patients experience no or very minor discomfort after the first stage of root canal treatment or after completing the treatment. Sometimes teeth may become tender to bite on for a few days after treatment. This is not uncommon and should be controlled by ordinary pain relief. Treatment instructions will be given to you along with pain medication if necessary. Some teeth take more time to settle however, if the pain persists you should contact our office.

As with any dental or medical procedure, there can be no assurance of success. Your endodontist will discuss your options and the chances of success before beginning treatment

How successful is root canal treatment?

Endodontic treatment enjoys high success rate. The success rate of the procedure varies depending on several factors, depending on the nature of the problem and the condition of the tooth before treatment. Recent studies showed success rates ranging from 80 to 95%. Generally, and if performed to high standards, root canal procedure does enjoy high success rate. As with any dental or medical procedure, there can be no assurance of success. We will discuss the prognosis of your tooth in the short and long-term when we consult with you and before we start your treatment.

How much does endodontic treatment cost?

The cost of root canal procedure can vary depending on several factors. These include the difficulty of the treatment, number of appointments required, materials used during treatment and the type and size of the final restoration. A more accurate estimate will be discussed with you at your consultation appointment. Generally, endodontic treatment is less expensive than extracting the tooth and replacing it with bridge or an implant.

How long will the tooth last?

With proper restoration and care endodontically treated teeth can last as long as any other tooth. There are many factors that determine the long-term survival of a root filled tooth including, but not limited to, the condition of the tooth before treatment, the nature of the procedure performed, the tooth restoration following the treatment, the way teeth bite together and habits such as grinding or clenching teeth. Good oral hygiene and periodic dental check-ups enhance the long-term survival of an endodontically treated tooth.

Can all teeth be treated endodontically?

With all the recent advances in this field, an increasing number of teeth that were traditionally deemed not treatable are now successfully treated and saved. Before you decide to have your tooth extracted talk to your Dentist about the option of discussing your treatment options with an Endodontist. Endodontists specialise in retaining natural teeth and have the right knowledge and experience to advise you on the best treatment options available to you.

What causes failure of endodontic treatment?

Endodontic treatment may fail for a few reasons, the most common is residual infection inside the root canal system. Secondary infection or re-infection of the root canal space is another common cause. There are other biological reasons for endodontic treatment failure including the nature of the disease associated with the tooth. The options in the event of endodontic treatment failure are endodontic re-treatment, surgical treatment in some cases or extraction of the tooth involved.

What is endodontic retreatment?

Endodontic retreatment involves repeating a failed root canal filling. Endodontic retreatment involves creating a small access opening through an existing satisfactory filling or cap. The root fillings are then identified, removed and the canals are cleaned and disinfected. The access cavity is then sealed with a temporary restoration. Subsequently, and usually at a later appointment, the canals are sealed with new root fillings and the access opening is permanently restored with an appropriate restoration.

What is Endodontic surgery?

Endodontists are trained to perform surgical procedures to deal with endodontic problems that cannot be resolved in a conservative approach. Apicectomy is the most common surgical procedure performed by Endodontists. Apicectomy is a minor surgical procedure that allows surgical access to the tooth root(s) and surrounding bone to remove residual inflammation and further seal the root end. The exact surgical procedure will be discussed with you in depth at your initial consultation.