Helping people maintain optimal oral health is at the heart of dentistry. But cavities, trauma, and gum disease can happen to anyone despite the best at-home oral hygiene care.
Endodontics is typically your go-to treatment for a damaged or infected tooth. In this blog, our highly experienced team of dentists at Mowry Dental in Fremont, California, explain what endodontics is and how it can save your natural teeth.
Tooth anatomy explained
Let’s first do a quick primer on the anatomy of a tooth to better understand endodontics. A tooth has four layers: enamel, dentin, pulp, and cementum.
The hard outer layer is enamel. It is a shield and protective layer for the inside parts of the tooth. Enamel and dentin keep bacteria and other harmful toxins from reaching the sensitive innermost part of the tooth, called the pulp. There are no living cells in the enamel or pulp.
In contrast, the pulp layer is made of soft tissue and houses blood vessels, nerves, connective tissue, and specialized cells. The fourth layer of a tooth is cementum. This hard tissue covers the tooth root and provides a strong foundation in the jawbone.
What is endodontics?
Endodontics is a dental specialty focusing on diagnosing and treating injuries, diseases, and damage to tooth pulp. Endodontists are dental specialists skilled at performing endodontic treatments.
Tooth-saving endodontic treatments
While each endodontic treatment is different, they all share the same goal — to save the tooth.
Root canal therapy
Root canal therapy is the most common endodontics treatment. In fact, more than 41,000 root canals are performed in the United States daily, totaling more than 15 million yearly. Root canals restore the health of a tooth.
The process begins with a thorough evaluation of the damage to the pulp. We first administer a local anesthetic. Next, we insert a dental dam to keep the treatment area dry and saliva-free. We remove the decayed parts of the tooth and any infected or damaged pulp using small instruments.
Once the pulp chamber is clear of damaged tissue, our team deep cleans using medication to ensure the tooth is dry and infection-free. When the pulp chamber is completely empty, we fill and seal the tooth.
Our team completes the root canal by installing a crown to strengthen the tooth and mitigate further damage. After the procedure, we send you home with post-procedure instructions to prevent pain and infections.
If the tooth doesn’t heal properly, we may perform endodontic retreatment to save the tooth.
During retreatment, we reopen your tooth and empty the pulp cavity of the filling materials placed during the first procedure.
Another endodontic treatment is called an apicoectomy, also known as a reverse root canal. We may recommend an apicoectomy after multiple root canals that didn’t remove the infection.
During the surgery, we make an incision in the gum tissue and remove the end of the root. Our team completes the procedure by sealing the root canal using a small filling.
If you are experiencing tooth pain or gum tenderness, contact Mowry Dental. Call us at 510-794-7900 or book an appointment online.