Endodontic FAQ

What is endodontics?

Endodontics is a branch of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association involving treatment of the pulp (root canal) and surrounding tissues of the tooth. When you look at your tooth in the mirror, what you see is the crown. The rest of the tooth, the portion hidden beneath the gum line, is called the root. Though the outer portion of the root is a hard tissue called dentin, the inside channel or “root canal” contains a pulp of soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria that are introduced into the pulp as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture or other problems, can severely damage the pulp. When that happens, an endodontic specialist removes the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation. After successful endodontic treatment, the tooth continues to perform normally.

I’m worried about x-rays. Should I be?

No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontics treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography, that produces radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of already low dose conventional dental x-ray machinery. These digital images can be optimized, archived, printed and sent to cotherapists via e-mail or diskette. For more information contact Schick Technologies, Inc.


We use a Carestream 8100 CBCT X-Ray machine in our office.  CBCT stand for Cone Beam Computed Tomography (“tomo” means slices).  The CBCT machine is a safer, faster and more compact version of the regular CT-scan machines found in hospitals and imaging centers.  As a result, the CBCT delivers a much lower amount of radiation as compared to regular CT machines, but more than traditional x-ray.  The information gained from our 3D technology gives us many advantages and aids in the successful treatment of your tooth.

   –How long does the CBCT scan take?

The CBCT scan takes approximately 15 seconds to scan the desired area.  After the scan is finished it only takes a moment to configure the images.  The scan is then able to be viewed on our computer screen.  We can provide you a copy of your scan if you desire.

    -What is the risk of CBCT exposure?

The amount of radiation from a CBCT scan is equivalent to 5 days of background radiation we experience in everyday life.  Due to its size, the amount of radiation is drastically less that of the larger CT scan you would have in a hospital setting.  The CBCT uses a cone shape x-ray beam to capture the target area and limit secondary exposure to other areas.

    -Why would a CBCT scan need to be taken?

Generally a CBCT scan is done in cases where:

1.  A tooth or an area of the mouth remains symptomatic, and/or conventional x-rays have been taken without success.  

2.  Cases, where traditional methods have failed to provide the necessary information, and the treating doctor remains unable to diagnose and much less treat the problem.

3.  Teeth that have been previously treated with root canal therapy but tooth still symptomatic and needs further evaluation.

4.  Tooth remain infected after proper root canal treatment and there is no apparent reason why the tooth is not healing.

5.  The canals are too calcified and closed off.  The CBCT scan makes it possible for Dr. Young and Dr. Nghiem to navigate within the root canal system.

6.  The tooth has unusual anatomy, such as resorption, lateral canals, extra roots, curved roots, bone loss from infection, bone loss from unknown source.

7.  Helpful in jaw and teeth that have suffered traumatic injury.  It can show the type and extent of teeth, root and bone fractures and injuries.

8.  CBCT can show cysts, granulomas and some tumors and their respective position within the jaw.

9.  CBCT can diagnosis a fractured tooth.  Cases where a tooth has a signs or symptoms of fracture, the referring dentist suspect the tooth is fractured.

What about infection?

We adhere to the most rigorous standards of infection control advocated by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association. We utilize autoclave sterilization and barrier techniques to eliminate any risk of infection.

What happens after treatment?

When your root canal therapy has been completed, a report of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact his/her office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, however, we are available at all times to respond.

What new technologies are being used?

1.  GentleWave Root Canal Disinfection System.  

2.  3D CBCT scan (the new standard in endodontics): makes a 3-D scan of your tooth so we can find difficult to see anatomy, infections, and other dental anomolies. GentleWave Disinfection System, for more information visit www.sonendo.com

3.  Zeiss Surgical Operating Microscopes. Magnification and fiber optic illumination are helpful in aiding the doctor to see tiny details inside your tooth. Also, a tiny video camera on the operating microscope can record images of your tooth to further document the doctor’s findings. 

4.  Schick digital x-ray sensors for the highest quality digitial images.

5.  Nomad Handheld X-ray Unit: emits 1/3 the radiation of a standard x-ray units.

6.  Adec quality sterilization center.