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Thomas R. Dunavant, DDS, MS

Central Texas Endodontics

 
What is an endodontist?

An endodontist is a dentist who has undergone a minimum of 2 years of extra postgraduate training. This specialist training allows an endodontist
to:

1. deal with diseases of the dental pulp and supporting structures
2. diagnose facial pain and related problems.

Your general dentist sometimes refers patients for consultation when the diagnosis is complicated or when treatment is more difficult than normal. Aside from providing treatment, Dr. Dunavant's role is also that of educator. It is important that patients understand why they require treatment, what treatment involves, and what they can do to ensure the best possible outcome. Dr. Dunavant believes that a properly informed patient has the best chance of achieving the optimal result.

What is endodontics?

Endodontics is a specialty of dentistry that deals with diseases of the dental pulp and its supporting structures. Endodontists are dentists with special post-graduate training in this field. Endodontists are also experienced at finding the cause of oral and facial pain that has been difficult to diagnose.

Although general dentists can perform endodontic treatment, patients are often referred to an endodontist when the case is complicated or more difficult than usual.
 

In order to understand endodontic treatment, it helps to know something about the anatomy of a tooth. Teeth have several layers. The outside layer of the tooth is composed of a hard layer called enamel. Enamel is supported by an inner layer called dentin, which has at its center a soft tissue known as the pulp.

The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue that are responsible for forming the surrounding dentin and enamel during tooth development. The pulp receives its nourishment supply from vessels which enter the end of the root. Although the pulp is important during development of the tooth, it is not necessary for function of the tooth. The tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it even after the pulp is removed.

Why would I need endodontic treatment?

Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The most common reasons for inflammation or infection are deep cavities (caries or decay), repeated dental procedures, cracks, or chips. Trauma can also cause inflammation and often shows up as discoloration of the tooth. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.

Signs and Symptoms

Indications for treatment include prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth, swelling or tenderness of the tooth or adjacent gums. Sometimes there are no symptoms.

How can endodontic treatment help me?

The endodontist removes the inflammed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the canal system and then seals the prepared space. Most treatment is now performed in a single appointment ranging from 30-90 minutes (depending on the number of canals). Once treatment is completed, you may be instructed to return to your dentist for permanent reconstruction. The restoration of the tooth is an important part of treatment because it seals the cleaned canals from the oral environment, protects the tooth and restores it to function.

Will I feel pain during or after the procedure?

Toothache pain is the main reason for patients seeking treatment. Fortunately, modern anesthetics can make the procedure pain free in most cases. Seeking treatment early makes the procedure more comfortable, so don't wait. When caught early, treatment should feel no different than having a regular filling. For the first few days after treatment, there may be some sensitivity to biting pressure, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. Sometimes over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications (Advil) are recommended for a day or two. Dr. Dunavant can prescribe other medications but they are rarely required.

Educational Video

 The link below will show you an educational video located on the American Association of Endodontists website, www.aae.org

.aae.org/News_Room/Endodontists_Put_Root_Canal_Patients_at_Ease.aspx