All About Endodontics

Specialists in Saving Teeth

Recognized by the American Dental Association, endodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry focused on the treatment of the pulp and surrounding tissues of a tooth. The visible part of your tooth is the crown, and the portion hidden beneath the gum line is the root.
The root’s hard outer tissue is called cementum, and the inside channel, or root canal, contains your tooth’s pulp, a soft tissue composed of blood vessels and nerves. When tooth decay, periodontal disease or a fracture introduce bacteria into the pulp, discomfort and severe damage ensue.

At Sturgill Endodontics, we treat root canals and provide full service endodontic treatments to save the tooth and prevent further problems and discomfort. After successful therapy, your general dentist will restore the tooth to normal function.

What is Endodontics?

Endodontics is a specialty of Dentistry that deals with diseases of the dental pulp and its supporting structures. Endodontists are Dentists with special post-graduate training in this field.  Endodontists are also experienced at finding the cause of oral and facial pain that has been difficult to diagnose.

Although General Dentists can perform endodontic treatment, patients are often referred to an Endodontist when the case is complicated or more difficult than usual.

As an endodontic specialist, Dr. Sturgill uses a dental microscope and 3-D imaging technology to guide root canal treatment.  This is a definite edge in ensuring a successful outcome.  

In order to understand endodontic treatment, it helps to know something about the anatomy of a tooth.  Teeth have several layers. The outside layer of the tooth is composed of a hard layer called Enamel.  Enamel is supported by an inner layer called Dentin, which has at its center a soft tissue known as the Pulp.

The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue that are responsible for forming the surrounding Dentin and Enamel during tooth development.  The pulp receives its nourishment supply from vessels which enter the end of the root.  Although the pulp is important during development of the tooth, it is not necessary for function of the tooth.  The tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it even after the pulp is removed.

Why Would I Need Endodontic Treatment?

Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected.

The most common reasons for inflammation or infection are:

1. Deep cavities (caries)

2. Extensive or repeated dental procedures

3. Cracks or fractures

4. Anatomic anomalies

Trauma can also cause inflammation and often shows up as discoloration of the tooth.  If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.

How Can Endodontic Treatment help me?

The Endodontist removes the inflammed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the canal system and then seals the prepared space. Most treatment is now performed in a single appointment ranging from 30-90 minutes (depending on the number of canals).  Once treatment is completed, you may be instructed to return to your dentist for permanent reconstruction.  The restoration of the tooth is an important part of treatment because it seals the cleaned canals from the oral environment, protects the tooth and restores it to function.

Endodontic FAQ’s

How much does treatment usually cost?

Fees will vary based on the needs of your tooth. Dr. Sturgill and her team will discuss the fees with you at the time of your appointment.

Our practice is able to file insurance claims on your behalf to maximize utilization of your insurance benefits. Please be sure to inquire of your specific insurance provider details regarding what your plan covers with an out of network provider. Sturgill Endodontics does not have a relationship with any insurance companies, however, we will work hard to help you receive payment for services we provide. Out-of-network plans may cover a substantial portion of root canal treatment in some cases- usually 50%-80%.  We will always work with you to determine your estimated cost for treatment so you can be prepared.

Will I feel pain during or after the procedure?

Toothache pain is the main reason for patients seeking treatment. Fortunately, modern anesthetics can make the procedure pain free in most cases. Seeking treatment early makes the procedure more comfortable, so don’t wait. When caught early, treatment should feel no different than having a regular filling. For the first few days after treatment, there may be some sensitivity to biting pressure, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. Sometimes over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications (like Advil) are recommended for a day or two. Dr. Sturgill can prescribe other medications but they are rarely required.

How long does a root canal take?

Conventional root canal therapy usually takes about 30-90 minutes to complete.
The anatomy of your tooth, along with the status of the pulp or existing materials inside your tooth can also affect the time of treatment. Occasionally, a root canal treatment will be divided into two separate appointments. In the 1-2 week interim, a medication is placed in your tooth to kill bacteria and prepare the tooth to be filled with root canal filling materials. 

What complications can arise following root canal treatment?

It is extremely rare, however there are a few risks to be aware of:

Infection – Occasionally bacteria will persist in or around your tooth following root canal treatment. Please notify your endodontist if you notice any signs of swelling, fever, drainage of pus or pain.  Antibiotics are sometimes indicated in these situations.  Also, sometimes an additional therapy will improve the chances of a successful outcome.  Such therapies include re-treatment of the root canal and apical surgery.

Breaking or fracture of a tooth – This usually occurs following a root canal treatment if the tooth is not restored properly within a timely manner.  A crown is typically indicated to protect your tooth after a root canal.  Think about the rings around a barrel holding the wood pieces together.  Your tooth is not protected without a permanent restoration placed by your general dentist or a prosthodontist.

Root fracture – This is not common at all, but can result from having multiple root canals done on a tooth, or from the stress of having root canal treatment.  Apical surgery or extraction is usually necessary to alleviate pain and infection that occur after a root fractures.

Numbness – Also known as paresthesia – this is extremely rare and is most common after apical surgery is performed.  The good news is that it usually resolves over a period of weeks to months.  Definitely keep your endodontist updated if you experience any numbness following treatment.

Call The Office

(423) 930-8585

Office Location

2800 Peoples Street, Suite 60
Johnson City, TN 37604

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