What Do General Dentists Do?
Unlike specialists, who are mostly focused on a particular aspect of dental practice, general dentists provide a wide array of services that are vital to your continued health, including:
- Preventive services — These help you maintain good oral health by stopping disease before it takes hold in your mouth. Regular exams (including diagnostic images such as x-rays) and professional teeth cleanings are a cornerstone of prevention. Your general dentist may give you detailed instructions to improve your at-home oral hygiene, and may also recommend preventive treatments such as sealants, if needed. And if you lead an active lifestyle, you can be fitted with a custom-made mouthguard at your dentist’s office.
- Restorative Services — When a problem is found, your dentist will ensure you get timely and appropriate treatment. Probably the most common (and highly effective) dental restoration involves removing tooth decay and placing a filling in the affected tooth. But that’s not the only restorative procedure general dentists provide. They offer you a place to go when you need prompt treatment for dental trauma—for example, a broken, loosened or knocked-out tooth. General dentists can diagnose and treat the causes of tooth pain or periodontal (gum) disease. They may also offer treatments for missing teeth, place crowns or bridgework, and help you get fitted with dentures. Some provide more advanced treatments, such as root canal therapy, orthodontics, and dental implants, as well.
- Cosmetic Procedures — Many general dentists can help you get the sparkling smile you’ve always wanted with a range of cosmetic procedures. These include teeth whitening, cosmetic bonding—even porcelain veneers. If a brighter smile is what you’re looking for, ask your general dentist about a smile makeover.
- Overall Health Concerns — In many respects, your oral health can be seen as a mirror of your general health. Some dental problems may reflect issues in other parts of your body, and vice versa. For example, untreated oral infections can lead to poorer control of diabetes, an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, and complications during pregnancy. General dentists are trained to identify these and other issues, and offer appropriate treatment or referral when needed. One special concern is obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially deadly condition that can sometimes be treated with an oral appliance. General dentists can also offer nutritional counseling, advice on tobacco cessation and general health and wellness information.
What is an Endodontist and what do they do?
Endodontists are dentists who specialize in maintaining teeth through endodontic therapy — procedures, involving the soft inner tissue of the teeth, called the pulp. The word “endodontic” comes from “endo” meaning inside and “odont” meaning tooth. Like many medical terms, it’s Greek. All dentists are trained in diagnosis and endodontic therapy, however, some teeth can be especially difficult to diagnose and treat. That’s why you may have been referred to an endodontic specialist.
In addition to dental school, endodontists receive two or more years of advanced education in this kind of treatment. They study root canal techniques and procedures in greater depth, for diagnosis and treatment of more difficult cases. For this reason, many dentists choose to refer their patients to endodontists.
What Happens During Endodontic Treatment? (What is a Root Canal?)
A local anesthetic will be given. A sheet of latex called the “rubber dam” (we’ve got nonlatex ones too) will be placed around the tooth to isolate it, hence keeping it clean and dry during treatment. The treatment consists of three or four basic steps, but the number of visits will depend on your particular case. Some treatments take 2 visits but many are just a single visit. Occasionally 3 appointments are needed.
In any case, it depends on the degree of infection/inflammation and degree of treatment difficulty. To me, it’s more important to do it the very best we can then to meet a specific time criteria. Let’s look at the basic steps for nonsurgical endodontic therapy.
There are, of course, no guarantees. Root canal or endodontic therapy has a very high degree of success, up to 90%. Teeth which can be treated near ideal have a success rate up to ninety percent! We will discuss with you the chances of success before any endodontic procedure to help you make an informed decision. If a root canal or endodontic therapy is unsuccessful or fails you still have options.
Diagnoses and Treats Pain
Oral pain such as toothaches or cracked / fractured teeth can often be difficult to pinpoint. Because of the vast network of nerves in the mouth, the pain of a damaged or diseased tooth often is felt in another tooth and/or in the head, neck, or ear. An endodontist is a specialist in diagnosing and treating this type of pain.
Treats Traumatic Injuries
Pulp damage is sometimes caused by a blow to the mouth, and the endodontist specializes in treating these traumatic injuries. For example, a blow to a child’s permanent tooth that is not fully developed can cause the root to stop growing. A procedure called apexification stimulates bone to be deposited at the end of the root which makes it possible to then save the tooth through a root canal procedure. An endodontist is specially trained in procedures for replanting teeth that have been knocked out of their sockets.
Will I need to return to your office for Additional Visits?
Once endodontic therapy is completed your tooth should be examined periodically, usually every 6 – 12 months. This allows us to make sure the tooth has healed or is healing properly. You will be sent a notice in the mail when we feel it is appropriate to reevaluate the area. Since an abscess may take 2 years to heal, our office will reevaluate the tooth for at least 2 years.
Occasionally a tooth that has undergone endodontic, treatment fails to heal or pain continues despite therapy. Although rare, sometimes a tooth initially responds to root canal therapy but becomes painful or diseased months or years later. When either of these situations occur, the tooth often can be maintained with a second endodontic treatment