Often, patients feel confused about the many types of dental specialists available. They wonder, “What is an endodontist? And what do they do?” Dr. Karmali, with Lowry Endodontics, explains what he does and how his specialty stands apart from general dentistry.

What Is an Endodontist?

An endodontist is a dental specialist who manages dental pain and infection. With careful treatment of the disease inside the tooth’s root, endodontists can save teeth from extraction.

How Is an Endodontist Different from a General Dentist?

Endodontists receive an additional 2-3 years of residency training after dental school.  This extra training is part of what distinguishes this specialty from general dentistry.  Endodontists also have advanced equipment and technology to manage the more difficult cases.  This includes the use of microscopes, high-resolution 3D scans, and dental lasers.  

Endodontists have specialty qualifications and equipment to effectively manage the inflammation and infection coming from a tooth.  

Why Do People Need an Endodontist?

Everyone knows the importance of having a general dentist for regular checkups, cleanings, fillings, and crowns.  However, few understand when they need an endodontist.

People need endodontists to treat problems inside their teeth that go beyond the capabilities of a general dentist. For instance, when a cavity spreads into the tooth’s nerves, a dentist might be able to perform root canal treatment. An endodontist, however, will be more trained and practiced in this procedure.  

Other reasons to see an endodontist may include getting treatment for a cracked tooth or getting a diagnosis of tooth pain. As dental pain specialists, endodontists can find and alleviate pain from the source. Plus, they are professionally trained to prevent pain during the procedures.

What Does an Endodontist Do?

Root canal treatment is the most common procedure done by endodontists.  They are also adept at diagnosing the source and cause of dental pain.  Endodontists also commonly manage cracked teeth and the retreatment of root canals that have failed to heal.  Since root canal treatments are a large part of what they do, endodontists can perform the procedure painlessly.   

Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy is one of the most frequently performed procedures by endodontists. This type of treatment cleans and disinfects the root canals.  By removing the inflamed or infected material from the tooth, the endodontist can prevent and resolve dental infections or abscesses.  

Endodontists anesthetize the tooth painlessly and effectively so that the procedure is comfortable.  Then a dental dam is placed to prevent contamination of the tooth during treatment.  By using a surgical microscope, the endodontist can make as small of an opening as possible.  This preserves the strength of the tooth. 

Next, the endodontist will find and disinfect all of the canals in the root. There can be as many as 4-5 canals in the root system.  A laser can be used to improve the disinfection.  The roots are then sealed, and the access opening is restored.  

Thanks to the high-tech equipment available and their training in pain management, the process is painless.  The recovery is also typically mild and uneventful.  

Endodontic Surgery

Endodontic surgery is another procedure done by endodontists. This involves reaching the infection through the gums.  The infected root tip is removed, and a small filling is placed.  This is called an apicoectomy.  The infected material from the outside of the root is also removed.  

As with root canal therapy, these surgical procedures require expert knowledge of the interior anatomy of teeth and how to mitigate pain.

Endodontic Retreatment

Endodontic retreatment is a procedure that corrects a root canal treatment that has failed.  A failed root canal happens if the infection from the tooth persists.  This can happen when enough bacteria are left behind during the original treatment.  The most common reason is that a microscopic canal is missed, or the roots are not cleaned fully.  Bacteria leaking into the root canal system through a faulty filling is another reason.   

The process usually starts with a careful evaluation.  Understanding why a treatment failed is the first step in correcting it.  The retreatment process closely mirrors a standard root canal therapy.  The endodontist opens the tooth and removes the original root filling.  Any anatomy that was missed initially is managed.  The endodontist disinfects and recleans the root canals.  An anti-microbial medication may be placed into the roots for several weeks to ensure complete disinfection.  Finally, the roots are resealed, and the access is restored.  

Cracked Teeth 

A crack in your tooth can be painful.  As the crack spreads, it can cause pain and inflammation of the nerve.  Eventually, the nerve can die.  The bacteria entering the tooth from the crack will then cause an infection.  

Patients who have a cracked tooth should start with a careful diagnosis as soon as possible.  If the crack has spread too far, the tooth may require extraction.  If caught early enough, root canal treatment can save the tooth.  

Diagnosis of Tooth Pain

Endodontists specialize in finding the causes of tooth pain.  Surprisingly, tooth pain can often be referred from other parts of your head and neck.  Just because your tooth hurts, does not mean that you need root canal treatment.  It could be your muscles or your sinuses referring pain to your tooth.  Understanding the cause of your pain is the most important step in fixing it. 

A careful examination is imperative.  Testing, x-rays, and high-resolution 3D scans can be used to obtain an accurate diagnosis.  If more conservative treatment options are available, they can be explored.  Dr. Karmali is extremely skilled at diagnosis and is very conservative in his treatment approach.  

When Should People Go to an Endodontist?

There are several reasons to see an endodontist.  If your general dentist sees a problem, he or she may refer you directly to an endodontist.  This could be from pain, infection, or a cracked tooth.  Patients can also self-refer to most endodontists if they sense that there is a problem.  

Contact Us for Compassionate, Quality Endodontic Treatment at Lowry Endodontics

For compassionate endodontic care from a skilled professional, make an appointment with Dr. Karmali.  From the evaluation, the treatment, and the after-care, you will be well taken care of.  

His training allows him to manage dental pain and infections while saving you from an extraction.   If you need endodontic care, you can trust Dr. Karmali and the entire staff at Lowry Endodontics.