Endodontist: Your Tooth Extraction & Root Canal Specialist
What is an endodontist?
An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions of the dental pulp, tooth root, and surrounding tissues. The dental pulp is the soft connective tissue inside a tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves. An endodontist is a root canal specialist. The overall goal of endodontists is to help people retain their natural teeth with preventive care and endodontic surgery.
An endodontist typically:
Evaluates the patient's dental and medical history and performs a dental and oral exam
Teaches patients about dental and oral conditions and diseases, good oral hygiene, and oral disease prevention
Orders and interprets laboratory and imaging tests such as X-rays
Prescribes medications including antibiotics and pain medications
Diagnoses diseases and conditions of the dental pulp, tooth root, and tissue surrounding the root
Treats various diseases affecting dental pulp and root of the tooth including pulp infections and cracked teeth
Administers anesthesia and performs root canals, tooth extractions, and endodontic surgery
Makes referrals to and collaborates with other dental specialists to ensure optimal care
An endodontist may also be known by the following terms: dentist, root canal dentist, root canal doctor, or root canal specialist.
Who should see an endodontist?
Your general dentist may refer you to an endodontist. Consider seeing an endodontist if you have diseases or conditions that affect the dental pulp, tooth root, or tissues surrounding the root, such as severe dental decay or broken teeth. If your dentist recommends extracting your tooth, see an endodontist first. Generally, the sooner you start treatment, the better the chance of saving the tooth. When you need of expert tooth and oral health care, find an experienced and qualified endodontist near you.
When should you see an endodontist?
Endodontists care for people with the following symptoms and conditions:
Chipped, broken or cracked tooth
Lymph node swelling or tenderness
Prolonged sensitivity to hot and cold liquids or foods
Tooth, mouth or jaw pain or tenderness occurring with or without chewing
What does an endodontist treat?
An endodontist diagnoses and treats a variety of conditions and diseases that affect the dental pulp, tooth root, and surrounding tissues. Conditions and diseases include:
Abnormal or problematic tooth anatomy
Advanced dental caries (cavities) or tooth decay that is near or into the pulp
Broken, cracked or chipped teeth that involve the pulp
Calcium deposits in the root canal
Gum disease (periodontal disease) caused by an infected tooth (abscess)
Infections at the tip of the root caused by diseased pulp (periapical lesions)
Inflamed or infected tooth pulp
What does an endodontist test?
An endodontist can order or perform a variety of diagnostic tests. These tests include:
Diagnostic surgery to detect problems that cannot be viewed on X-ray
Imaging tests to evaluate tooth decay and other problems. Imaging tests include CT (computed tomography) scans, and bitewing, periapical and panoramic X-rays of all the teeth and both jaws
Oral exam including your dental and medical history. This can include a fiber optic light exam to see decay, cracks in the tooth, and other abnormal tissue.
Pulp test to help diagnose the health of the pulp and determine if your tooth can be saved
Sensitivity tests including temperature sensitivity tests and tooth tapping
What procedures and treatments does an endodontist perform or order?
Common endodontic procedures and treatments include:
Apicoectomy, or root-end resection, which is the surgical removal of the root tip and diseased tissue
Intentional replantation, which is the surgical removal, treatment and replacement of a tooth
Root canal, which is nonsurgical removal of the nerve and diseased pulp inside the tooth. The space inside the tooth is cleaned out, filled, and sealed.
Root surgery including repair and removal of a diseased root and surrounding tissue
Tooth extraction in cases where endodontic treatment cannot save the tooth. Some endodontists also perform dental implants after tooth extractions.
Endodontist training and certification
When choosing an endodontist, look for one who is board certified by the American Board of Endodontics. A dentist may practice endodontics without becoming board certified in the specialty, but board certification in endodontics verifies the dentist has the necessary training and surgical skills to deliver a high level of care.
Board-certified endodontists have:
Completed three or more years of undergraduate education
Completed a degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) from a dental school accredited by the American Dental Association
Completed the requirements for state licensure to practice dentistry
Completed at least two additional years of advanced specialty education and training in an endodontics program accredited by the American Dental Association
Passed written, case history, and oral examinations
To maintain board certification, an endodontist must complete continuing education credit and be recertified every ten years. Some states require a given number of continuing education hours every two years in order to maintain the state license. Board certification, accepted insurance, location information, and patient reviews will help you narrow your search results and pick an excellent provider.