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What is an Endodontist & What Does an Endodontist Do?

An endodontist is a trained and certified dentist who has continued their education and training to specialize in repairing the inside of the tooth. They diagnose and treat the complex causes of tooth pain, disease, and infection. To relieve pain and save someone’s natural tooth when it’s infected or suffering from decay, endodontists perform root canals and other procedures.

Procedures Performed by an Endodontist Specialist

Endodontists specialize in performing the following advanced dental procedures:
  • Root canals: in this dental procedure, the damaged or infected tooth pulp is carefully removed (“tooth pulp” is what dentists call the soft tissue inside the tooth. It’s composed of blood vessels, nerves, and other tissues found deep inside a tooth), the root canals are cleaned and shaped, and then they are sealed to prevent any further infection.
  • Retreatment: sometimes a root canal fails to heal properly or pain or infection continues or reoccurs. In cases like these it may be necessary to repeat a root canal treatment.
  • Endodontic surgery (apicoectomy): occasionally a root canal won’t be enough to heal a tooth and the tissues surrounding it. In a case like this, an apicoectomy procedure can be performed that removes the tip of the tooth’s root along with surrounding tissue that is infected. The root tip is then cleaned and sealed using a filling.
  • Treating traumatic injuries: an accident or a severe blow to the mouth can sometimes cause trauma to the teeth and result in tooth pulp damage. Treating these kinds of traumatic injuries is something endodontists also specialize in.
Endodontist specialists are experts in dealing with difficult and complex cases such as these. They also often work in cooperation with general dentists to offer a full range of dental care for patients.

How is an Endodontist Different from a Dentist?

An endodontist is a fully trained and licensed dentist who has completed an additional two or three years of specialized training in endodontics. All this extra training is focused on diagnosing and treating injuries, decay, infection, and disease that can occur of the pulp of the tooth, and they perform procedures such as root canals, retreatments, and apicoectomies. This specific area of dentistry is so specialized that only around 2% of dentists become endodontists. A normal or general dentist, on the other hand, provides their patients with a wide range of dental services. These will often include cleaning teeth, treating cavities, doing fillings, and creating crowns and bridges. Some will also perform basic endodontic procedures but will refer patients needing more complicated treatment to an endodontist.

Endodontist vs Periodontist – What is the Difference Between the Two?

When we compare an endodontist vs periodontist and try to learn the difference between the two, the first helpful thing to do is to look at their names. While the names of these two dental specialties may seem strange, they actually reveal the difference for anyone who knows Latin – which isn’t many of us. For endodontist, “endo” means inside and “dont” means tooth. So putting these together we get “endo-dont” or inside-tooth. This is exactly what an endodontist focuses on: working inside the tooth. They clean infection and decay out of the inside of the tooth by doing root canals and other procedures. For a periodontist, “perio” means outside in Latin and “dont” means tooth. So “perio-dont” means outside-the-tooth. This description describes a lot of what a periodontist does. They tend to work outside and around the teeth focusing on the gums and bone loss that occurs around where teeth are situated. They are experts at treating complex cases of gum disease and infection. Because teeth are anchored in bone and gums, periodontists also can extract teeth and put dental implants in place. They can also perform restorative gum care and cosmetic dentistry procedures.
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