Dentist fear is usually related to the work they perform on root canals, that drilling and filling which is usually felt almost organically, even under anesthesia. Yet, the dentists mean well, as most of the times they are struggling to rescue the tooth and keep it in place, as opposed to just removing it and putting an artificial, painful and costly replacement.
What is endodontics?
This is a special type of dentistry and means inside the tooth, as there is where most work happens, once teeth start to have problems such as root infections, root cavities or pulp-dentine necrosis. Dr. Maria Lopez Howell explains:
“ By focusing their practice on specific procedures such a root canal treatment, surgery and trauma, endodontists are experts at managing a wide array of complex endodontic problems efficiently. Advanced technologies and specialized techniques used by endodontists give them a very accurate view of the inside of the tooth and allow them to treat the tooth quickly and comfortably.
By saving your tooth, an endodontist can help you keep your natural smile, so you can continue to eat your favorite foods and maintain your overall health. Nothing looks, feels or functions like your natural tooth!”
This kind of work is usually performed on patients who claim sensitivity to hot/cold or experience pain while eating sweet food. If you have such symptoms it might be the time to give your dentist a call.
Who requires endodontic treatment?
Once we get our permanent set of teeth, before puberty, they are constantly exposed to decay factors, both externally (food, drinks, pH level) and internally (infections, genetic predispositions), therefore all adults are exposed to teeth problems sometimes as early as 20 years old. A study focusing on the demographics and the cause of these problems has shown that:
“More female patients and younger age group demanded for root canal therapy. Irreversible pulpitis was responsible for the majority of the cases treated and highest number of procedure was performed on maxillary teeth. The molars were the most endodontically treated teeth.”
This means that young ladies should take a lot more care of their teeth since they are more vulnerable due to a lack of calcium, which is usually lost easier by women at reproductive age through natural processes.
The alternative of regeneratative endodontics
The latest advances of medicine, using stem cells show that endodontincs could be transformed by helping teeth heal themselves. This is still an experimental procedure, with a lot of testing to be done before it can be safely used on a larger scale and does not eliminate intrusive procedures.
The America Endodontic Association shows that:
“Regenerative endodontic therapy provides an alternative treatment approach that builds on the principles of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. The aim of the therapy is to successfully treat these challenging cases by regenerating functional pulpal tissue. Tissue engineering is an interdisciplinary field that integrates the principles of biology and engineering to develop biological substitutes that replace or regenerate human cells, tissue or organs in order to restore or establish normal function (9). There are three key elements for tissue engineering: stem cells, scaffolds and growth factors.”
Regenerative techniques are limited to young healthy patients, who have an organism able to heal naturally. Other factors including the absence of past dental work and a certain type of coagulation are key to the success of this procedure.
We have asked the staff of Austin Endodontics Dentists about their opinion on these new procedures and they confirmed that although this sounds like the future, if you are already past your 30’s and have some work done on your teeth the best solution remains the canal treatment. They advise you to give your smile a check-up if you feel discomfort in contact with hot or cold drinks or it you have a sore throat without having a cold, usually that means a root infection.