Root Canal Information


What is an Endodontist?

All dentists are trained to do root canal therapy in dental school. Your dentist will look at the x-ray of your tooth and determine if an Endodontist ( root canal specialist ) is needed.

On occasion, a dentist will start a root canal only to discover once inside the tooth that the anatomy of the tooth is difficult to treat and will then advise the patient to seek an Endodontist.

An Endodontist has two full extra years of specialized training, the majority of his work is doing root canals, uses specialized equipment and most use a microscope to see inside the tooth.  Endodontists have extra training in diagnosing facial and jaw pain.

A root canal is a very tedious procedure (for the doctor), requires expertise and precision to get it right.

Teeth can be tricky. A front tooth, or anterior, has one root but sometimes two. Inside that one root is usually one canal, but there can be more. A premolar has two roots but sometimes three. A molar has three roots, but there can be three, four, or five canals. There are reports of a few molars with six canals.

Small, accessory canals can veer off from the main canal. It takes a microscope to see some of these canals and an expert Endodontist to find and treat them all.

The roots of the tooth can actually curve or curl around the other roots. It takes a lot of skill to successfully remove the nerve and infected pulp from all of these canals without destroying the tooth. If the infected pulp is not completely removed, the root canal can fail and the tooth will have to be either re-treated or removed.

Retreatment of a root canal can save most teeth. A re-treatment is completing root canal therapy on a tooth for the second time. As stated above, some canals can be missed if not treated by an Endodontist with a microscope. A re-treatment is much more difficult for the dentist to perform and therefore is more expensive than an original root canal.

Statistically, the failure rate for root canals is much lower for Endodontists than general dentists. Considering that the Endodontist does many more root canals than a general dentist, the procedure is much faster with the specialists.

Endodontist can also perform surgical root canals, called an apicoectomy. These are performed on teeth that have had root canal therapy and a cyst or problem has developed in the bone over the treated tooth or infection in the bone around the root does not heal. A small incision is made in the gum above the root, and the root is accessed and sealed off from its end.  The necessity for this procedure is rare.

Your dentist will consider the anatomy and condition of your tooth and decide if they have the precision and skill it takes to perform successful root canal therapy, or recommend an Endodontist.