What is endodontics?
Endodontics is a branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association involving diagnosis and treatment of the pulp (root canal) and surrounding tissues of the tooth. When you look at your tooth in the mirror, what you see is the crown. The rest of the tooth, the portion hidden beneath the gum line, is called the root. Though the outer portion of the root is a hard tissue called dentin, the inside channel or “root canal” contains a pulp of soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, trauma, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems, can severely and irreversibly damage the pulp. When that happens, an endodontic specialist removes the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further inflammation and infection. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform normally.
I’m worried about x-rays. Should I be?
No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontics treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, which produces radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of already low dose conventional dental x-ray machinery. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to co-therapists via e-mail or diskette. For more information contact DEXIS, LLC.
What about infection control?
Again, there’s no need for concern. We adhere to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association. We utilize autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection.
What happens after treatment?
When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment with pre- and post-treatment digital images of the treated tooth will be sent to your general dentist. You should contact their office soon and make arrangements for a follow-up restoration to be done within a few weeks. Your dentist will work with you to decide what type of restoration is necessary to best protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or even microsurgery. Every last detail will be covered at great length during the post-treatment instructions. But, feel free to ask any question that might come to mind. On those rare occasions that a post-treatment problem does occur, however, you will have been given an emergency contact number for Dr. Angulo that you can call anytime for further instructions and/or arrangements for treatment or medication.
What new technologies are being used?
Operating Microscope: In addition to digital radiography, we utilize a special operating microscope. Magnification and fiber optic illumination are helpful in aiding the doctor to see tiny details inside your tooth. Also, a tiny video camera on the operating microscope can record images of your tooth to further document the doctor’s findings.
Electronic Apex Locators: In most cases, electronic apex locators can minimize the number of x-rays needed to complete root canal treatment.
Ultrasonics: Ultrasonic instruments can be valuable to remove or loosen obstructions that would otherwise prevent reliable endodontic therapy.
Electric Handpieces (Dental Drills): The electric dental drills in our office are quieter than the strictly air turbine models. Additionally, they provide more variability to the speeds required to accomplish different procedures.
Digital X-rays: The benefits of using digital x-rays instead of traditional x-rays are numerous. Identifying them all here would probably fill the page. But, even though the process is virtually the same from the perspective of the patient, it really is quite different. Perhaps the most significant is the fact that the highly sensitive “sensor” requires about 10% of the radiation of the old film pack to accomplish the same quality exposure (which means you would need to have ten of our images taken before receiving the same radiation exposure you would have had with just one old-style dental x-ray film).
Nickel-Titanium Rotary Insturmentation: The incredible flexibility and durability of the nickel-titanium (or Ni-Ti) rotary (drill-mounted) endodontic instruments allows for quicker and more efficient cleaning of the root canal system than the old standard inventory of stainless steel (hand-held) instruments.
Inhalation Sedation: The use of nitrous oxide (once referred to as “laughing gas”) inhalation sedation is one of several ways that Dr. Angulo can help anxious or apprehensive patients with their treatment experience, if so requested.