Endo is the Greek word root for “inside,” and odont means “tooth.” Thus, endodontic therapy refers to treatment of the inner material of your tooth, which is also known as the dental pulp. A tooth has three layers: enamel on the outermost layer, dentin as the second layer, and pulp as the innermost layer.
The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. It extends from the crown or top of your tooth to the nerve roots in your jaw. Pulp is vital to the initial growth and development of your teeth. Once they’ve matured, however, your teeth can survive without the pulp, since they obtain nourishment from other surrounding tissue.
Root canal treatment is a common endodontic procedure that’s performed to save an infected tooth from extraction. Cavities, cracks or fractures, large fillings, crowns, trauma, and extreme wear can all cause a tooth to become infected. During root canal treatment, Dr. Pak removes the pulp and decay, fills the space with medicated material, and seals the tooth.
A root canal procedure eliminates the pain and complications caused by an infected tooth and restores full function of the tooth, but it also weakens the tooth. Thus, during a second procedure, a crown or cap is placed over the tooth after root canal treatment to restore its strength. The crown protects the remaining tooth from further decay, which would require a repeat root canal procedure or possible extraction.
Many patients can tolerate a root canal with only local anesthetic to numb the tooth and gums in the area of treatment. However, Dr. Pak has extensive experience in sedation dentistry and offers his patients conscious sedation with nitrous oxide to help ease your anxiety during root canal treatment.
Often referred to as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide does not put you to sleep or mask pain. You remain awake and able to answer questions throughout the treatment, but it makes you feel relaxed, happy, and much less concerned about the procedure. Even if you opt for conscious sedation, Dr. Pak uses numbing agents to prevent pain during the procedure.