Endodontics is a specific type of training just about every single dentist gets before graduating and refers mainly to special endodontic procedures and knowledge. You might thing dentists only deal with the teeth, but that’s not true. There’s a whole host of other mouth issues that dentists have to look at to keep you healthy. In fact, endodontics is by itself an additional two years of training for most dentists and is a requirement to start their practice.
You might have dental pain that’s difficult to diagnose. Maybe that pain is radiating down to your jaw or doesn’t have any root cause. This is where endodontics comes into play. It really looks at some other major concerns that might impact your teeth or even the rest of the mouth. Let’s take a deeper look at endodontics and what it might entail.
What is Endodontics?
Endodontics is actually a Greek word that literally means “inside the tooth.” “Endo” means “inside” and “odont” is “tooth,” so you can begin to see why this is field requires some special education to understand. A tooth isn’t just known by its outward appearance. There’s a lot that goes on inside the tooth, under the gums, and more.
Let’s take a brief second to explain what happens inside a tooth that requires endodontic treatment. We all know we have enamel on our teeth. It’s designed to keep our teeth shiny and strong. It’s what we brush, floss, and rinse to keep our teeth looking and feeling their best. Underneath that enamel is what’s called dentin. Dentin is also called the ‘pulp’ of our teeth and is basically soft tissue.
This pulp is where all the nerves, connective tissues, and blood vessels reside. When everything is healthy, it’s this pulp that helps keep the enamel strong. This dentin area starts at the crown of the tooth and goes down to the root, connecting to other tissues around the root of the tooth. Usually, this pulp is needed mainly during development. We know children lose their teeth before their adult sets come in. Once the adult teeth come in and are mature, then the pulp isn’t as necessary.
That’s because the tooth can then be supported and nurtured by the surrounding tissues.
What Are Endodontic Procedures For?
Sometimes that pulp portion of our teeth can get infected. There are so many bacteria in our mouth and even steady brushers might find themselves dealing with an infection. It can be caused by a decay deep within the tooth, a crack or chip in the tooth, or even having multiple dental procedures done on it. Once an infection begins, it can really damage the pulp area of the tooth and cause decay, pain, and even an abscess.
If the pulp of your tooth has been damaged, there will be several very noticeable warning signs that can include prolonged heat or cold sensitivity, swelling, tenderness of the gums, pain, and even discoloration. You might find all of these going on at the same time, which is when you know there’s an infection probably doing a bit of damage to your teeth.
This is where endodontic treatments can help protect the tooth. The infected part of the pulp will need to be removed and cleaned out of the tooth. Once that happens, the dentist will fill the gap and seal the space. Afterward, a crown will be placed on the tooth so that it can return back to its normal, healthy function.
Are Endodontic Procedures Painful?
These types of procedures are often done to help relieve toothaches caused by inflammation and infection of the pulp. Most patients who get this type of surgery done say they are comfortable, as anesthetics are used and newer techniques used to fix the problem. Once the dentist is done, there might be a little remaining sensitivity, but the overall pain due to the infection will subside.
You might even notice that the tooth that received the treatment feels different from your other teeth and that’s perfectly normal. Some added sensitivity might happen as well. You can help take care of these abnormalities with over-the-counter medications. If there’s severe pain or added pressure from the procedure, then you should call your dentist or endodontist who performed the surgery.