Endodontics: Understanding the Purpose and Procedure of Root Canal Treatment

Endodoncia, que es y para que sirve

What is Endodontics?

The branch of dentistry that deals with the dental nerve is called Endodontics. Despite being an essential specialization, it is not a very well-known one since it deals with the inner parts of the tooth that are not visible to the naked eye. However, in case of a related to the dental nerve, Endodontics plays a crucial role. It is crucial to know when to seek the help of an Endodontist.

In the following lines, we will discuss the signs and symptoms that indicate the need for root canal treatment.

Dental pain, call an Endodontics


Experiencing tooth pain doesn’t necessarily indicate the need for a root canal treatment. Mild sensitivity to cold or pain after dental treatment are common and normal occurrences. In fact, sensitivity after dental procedures can persist for up to a year. Tooth pain while eating can be caused by various factors, such as enamel erosion from acidic foods like lemon or vinegar, using a hard-bristled toothbrush, or bruxism.

However, if the pain is intense, pulsating, and is triggered by cold, heat, or sweet food, and sometimes even causes headaches, it is crucial to seek the assistance of an Endodontist immediately to address the nerve damage. So, what is the procedure for treating this? Firstly, a periapical X-ray is taken to examine the affected area, evaluate the general dental condition and identify the underlying cause. After administering local anesthesia, the damaged nerve is removed.

Sealing Techniques in Endodontics for Tooth Health

To ensure proper healing, a thorough cleaning is performed inside the root using specialized tools. This is crucial to prevent the entry of any oral bacteria, which can lead to a severe infection. Following this, the tooth is sealed using gutta-percha, a material that is carefully inserted into the root using micro-cones, which are precisely placed to conform to the root’s shape. Alternatively, a quicker technique involves injecting the gutta-percha material directly into the tooth to create the seal.

Both techniques for sealing the tooth are equally safe, and the Endodontist can choose between them without compromising the quality of the treatment. The choice of technique largely depends on the patient’s specific case and the availability of equipment. The thermal form technique is faster and is particularly useful when the nerve roots are hard to access or visualize. However, the suitability of the technique ultimately depends on the patient’s unique needs and the nature of the treatment.

Eventually, the pain associated with the root canal treatment completely subsides, although in a few cases, some degree of sensitivity may persist. However, this is a common occurrence and should not cause undue concern. Patients are advised to schedule follow-up appointments to monitor the progress of the treatment since in some instances, surrounding nerves may continue to give rise to pain, but it usually dissipates with time. If the pain persists, it is recommended to repeat the periapical X-ray or computed tomography of the tooth in question and undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the case to determine the underlying cause of the symptoms.

Endodontics: Color change tooth

A tooth that exhibits a change in pain is not only a cosmetic concern but also requires appropriate treatment and ongoing monitoring. Typically, the leading cause of a tooth’s discoloration is due to physical trauma, similar to when we sustain a head injury and develop a bruise, or when an object falls heavily on our nail and causes it to take on a purple hue.

Internal bleeding coagulates and forms a purplish stain, which lasts for a day or a week on the skin, and a bit longer on the nail until it grows out or is gradually reabsorbed. However, a tooth is different since it cannot regenerate or replace itself like the skin or nails. As the clot penetrates deeper into the tooth’s small tubules, the discoloration becomes more pronounced and irreversible. In such cases, a root canal procedure is necessary to prevent further damage to the tooth.

How to treat a tooth with color change

The initial step is to take an x-ray of the affected tooth to assess if it requires endodontic treatment or if there is any root resorption resulting from the impact. If endodontic treatment is necessary, it should be done promptly and correctly. Once the treatment is complete, aesthetic improvements can be made by performing internal dental whitening or by placing dental veneers made of resin or ceramic to enhance the appearance of the tooth.

In an accident, when a tooth is completely knocked out

Losing a tooth can be a traumatic experience, especially if it’s knocked out completely from the mouth due to an accident or injury. The first thing that should be done is to locate the tooth and handle it carefully, avoiding touching the root as much as possible. It’s essential not to wash or clean the tooth, as doing so can damage the tiny fibers attached to the root surface. Instead, the tooth should be stored in a container of milk, saline solution or water with a pinch of salt to keep it hydrated and prevent the root from drying out.

The next crucial step is to visit an endodontist as soon as possible. Time is of the essence when it comes to reimplanting a knocked-out tooth, as the longer it remains outside of the mouth, the lower the chances of successful reattachment. The endodontist will assess the damage to the tooth and determine whether or not it can be saved. In many cases, the tooth can be reimplanted and splinted into place for a period of time, allowing the tissues to heal and reattach to the root.

However, it’s essential to keep in mind that even after reimplantation, there is a possibility of complications such as inflammation, infection, or resorption, where the body starts to break down the root structure. In such cases, the endodontist will evaluate the situation and may suggest alternative options such as a dental implant to replace the lost tooth.

Regular follow-up appointments and radiographic examinations are necessary to monitor the healing process and ensure that the tooth remains healthy and functional. With timely intervention and proper care, a knocked-out tooth can be successfully reimplanted and restored to its original function and appearance.

Endodontics: For prevention before a corona

When a dental crown is required, the dentist may need to remove a significant amount of the tooth structure for either cavity removal or to ensure proper crown retention. In such cases, it is recommended to perform a root canal procedure prior to crown placement, even if the tooth’s nerve is healthy. This is because in the future, the nerve may cause discomfort or pain, which may require further removal of the newly placed crown. Therefore, to prevent this scenario, endodontic treatment may be necessary to avoid potential pain or discomfort in the future.

Endodontics: Bad odor

If you notice an increase in dental odor even after following a good oral hygiene routine and avoiding strongly-scented foods, the cause could be related to the dental root. Sometimes, cavities can develop without causing any noticeable pain, gradually reaching the nerve and resulting in pulp necrosis, or the death of the nerve. As a result, bad breath may occur. To address this issue, it is recommended to undergo periapical radiography to determine the extent of the damage, followed by appropriate endodontic treatment.

Tooth with something inside that looks like gum

A situation similar to the previous one may occur where a hidden cavity causes inflammation resulting in a pulp polyp inside the tooth. This polyp needs to be extracted by an endodontist, and then the endodontic treatment is carried out, followed by sealing and restoration of the tooth to restore its function, health, and aesthetics.

Sara Pelaez Monsalve

Aesthetic dentistry with more than 14 years of experience in the field. Founder of Clinica Viena and Viena Kids (clinic focused on pediatric dentistry). Professional focused on patient care, on the application of best practices and high-quality world-class treatments.

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