Dentists in San Francisco, endodontists, periodontists, pediatric dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons and oral and maxillofacial pathologists all focus on explicit specialties, and in return, your mouth, teeth and gums receive expert care from trained and continually educated professionals.
What is an Endodontist?
Your tooth, just like an iceberg, has surfaces you can see and others you can’t see. A completely healthy tooth is healthy on the inside and out. Endodontics is a specialty under the San Francisco dentistry umbrella focusing on the pulp and nerves inside your teeth. An endodontist completes dental school followed by two additional years of specialized endodontic education. The advanced education makes endodontists equipped to diagnose and treat issues inside our teeth.
The American Dental Association’s patient resource Mouth Healthy tells us “endo” is Greek for “inside” and “odont” is Greek for “tooth.” It’s easy to see how endodontics got its name.
Why Would I Need to See an Endodontist?
The hard outermost layer of your tooth is called enamel, and beneath that layer you’ll find dentin. Dentin is also hard and dense. Beneath the dentin you’ll find the tooth’s pulp. Pulp houses your tooth’s nerve and blood vessels. Your root canal, or the channel holding your tooth’s root, is found in the pulp. Root canal also names the procedure dentists and endodontists use to remove an infected nerve from your tooth.
Bacteria naturally occur in your mouth, and if they aren’t removed with proper oral care, they grow and leave acid as a byproduct. The acid eats through your tooth’s enamel and exposes dentin.
“The process continues in the tooth until it gets to the pulp where the nerve and blood vessels are located,” says University of North Carolina endodontist Dr. Eric M. Rivera.
Exposed dentin makes your tooth ultrasensitive to hot and cold food even after the hot or cold item is removed. You may also notice your tooth has darkened, your surrounding gums are tender and swollen and your tooth aches; these are all signs you may need root canal therapy. Contact your dentist to see if these symptoms signal a need for root canal treatment. Your dentist may offer root canal treatment, or he may refer you to an experienced endodontist for the procedure.
It’s normal to feel nervous about your root canal even though the procedure is completely safe. Find a San Francisco sedation dentist to put your mind and body at ease during your root canal treatment. Your endodontist will remove any infected pulp inside your tooth. Then he will clean, fill and seal the tooth. Your symptoms will subside after your treatment and you will regain function of your tooth. In many cases you will see your dentist after the root canal treatment to permanently restore your tooth.
You may also need to see an endodontist if you’ve suffered a trauma to the face. An injured tooth may need saving, and an endodontist can give you specialized treatment specific to the inside of your tooth.
How Do I Keep the Insides of My Teeth Healthy?
First, make sure you wear a mouth guard when you’re playing contact sports. Ask your dentist for a custom mouth guard for you or your children. Accidents to the face and mouth can come unexpectedly, but take precautions to make sure your mouth is as safe as possible.
Second, visit the dentist twice a year. Your dentist can discuss any issues you’re experiencing, and he may refer you to an endodontist to treat root canal issues. A restored tooth will function beautifully, allowing you to eat, speak and brush normally.
Third, and most important, practice good oral hygiene habits every day. Floss at least once a day, and brush at least twice a day. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy will also keep the insides of your teeth healthy.
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