Scope of Practice
What is an endodontist?
- Endodontists complete four years of dental school and two or more years of advanced training in endodontics.
- Endodontists treat problems related to damaged tissue inside the tooth.
- Endodontists are specialists in: performing root canals; retreating failed root canals and related infections; diagnosing and treating oral and facial pain; saving natural teeth and treating injured teeth after trauma; performing apical surgeries.
What is root canal treatment?
- Root canal treatment is needed when the pulp (soft tissue inside the tooth) becomes inflamed or infected as a result of: injury; trauma; deep decay; repeated dental procedures; or a cracked or chipped tooth.
Root canal facts
- Root canals save nearly 16 million teeth annually.
- Root canals performed by endodontists are a better and common alternative to tooth extraction.
- Seventy-six percent prefer a root canal to tooth extraction.
- Root canals do not cause pain—they relieve pain.
- Patients who have had root canals performed by an endodontist are six times more likely to describe them as “painless” than those who have never had a root canal.
- With new technologies and anesthetics, root canal treatment is similar to having a cavity filled.
- Root canals can usually be completed in a single visit by an endodontist.
- Eighty-five percent of patients who have had a root canal performed by an endodontist would return to an endodontist for future work.
- Root canals do not cause illness.
You should see an endodontist when:
- Your tooth is sensitive to heat or cold;
- Your tooth feels tender to touch or when chewing; or
- You experience swelling of the mouth or face.
How root canals are performed?
- During root canal treatment, the endodontist:
Removes the inflamed or infected pulp; cleans and shapes the inside of the canals (channels inside the tooth); and fills and seals the canal space.
- After a root canal, the endodontist returns the patient to a general dentist to have a crown placed or other restorative work performed, as soon as possible.
- After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.
How long will the root canal appointment take?
- The appointment could range from 1.5 -2.5 hours depending on the endodontic treatment that needs to be performed at that visit. Usually single visit treatments would take longer (up to 2.5 hours) compared to two visit treatments that could take up to 3 -3.5 hours total.
What to expect after your root canal is performed?
- It is normal to feel some tenderness in the area for a few days after root canal treatment.
- Some patients may experience a “flare up (increased pain and /or some swelling)” after root canal treatment. This can be managed by talking to your endodontist who will instruct you on how to manage your pain and/or swelling.
- Symptoms are temporary and you can often find relief from over-the-counter medication or in some cases prescription medication maybe necessary.
- For a short time after your root canal treatment, your tooth may feel slightly different from your other teeth.
- Care should be taken when chewing or biting on the treated tooth until you have had it permanently restored by your dentist.
- Feel free to contact your endodontist at any time with questions or concerns.
Saving a knocked-out tooth
- With proper emergency action, a tooth that has been entirely knocked out of its socket often can be successfully replanted and last for years.
- Pick up the tooth by the crown, not the root.
- Rinse the tooth with water.
- Reposition the tooth into the socket, if possible.
- If not possible, keep the tooth moist (use milk or keep it inside your cheek).
- See an endodontist within 30 minutes of the injury or accident.
Does the patient need to come back after root canal treatment is completed?
- Once endodontic therapy is completed your tooth should be examined periodically by your endodontist, usually every 6 – 12, up to 24 months. This allows the endodontist to make sure the tooth is healing properly. Some cases may take longer to heal as compared to the others hence patients are usually recalled back for up to 2 years.
Avina Paranjpe BDS, MS, MSD, PhD
Dr. Avina Paranjpe graduated with her BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) degree from the Mumbai University, India in 2000. She was in private practice in Mumbai, India from 2000-2002 after which she obtained her Master’s degree (MS) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Oral Biology, Immunology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2004 and 2007 respectively. Dr. Paranjpe earned her Master of Science in Dentistry (MSD) and Certificate in Endodontics from the University of Washington Graduate Endodontics Program in August 2009 after which she joined the faculty at the University of Washington, School of Dentistry as Assistant Professor. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics. Dr. Paranjpe is involved in several ongoing research projects related to dental materials and regenerative Endodontics. She has numerous publications in the area of pulpal regeneration and revascularization, immunology, compatibility of biomaterials.
Dr. Paranjpe is a member of the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), American Dental Association (ADA) and the International Association of Dental Research (IADR).