How an Endodontist Can Help With an Injured Tooth
Dentists often refer a patient with an injured tooth to an endodontist for evaluation and treatment. If you have an injured tooth, there are several treatment options. Which option makes sense will depend on how severe the damage is. Root canals and extractions are common endodontic procedures. All dentists receive some training in specialized procedures, such as treatments for cracked or loose teeth, but endodontists have additional training and experience. Depending on the nature of the injury, a person with an injured tooth may need treatment from this specialist.
The term "endodontics" refers to the inside of the tooth. This dental specialty is concerned with the soft tissue inside the tooth as well as the hard structure of the tooth and the root. That soft tissue, known as the pulp, contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. The enamel is the surface layer of the tooth, which is separated from the pulp by a hard middle layer called dentin.
Dentists tend to focus on treating enamel and dentin. On the other hand, an endodontist focuses on evaluating and treating tooth injuries that penetrate the enamel and dentin. Endodontists routinely treat dislodged, loose, and cracked or fractured teeth with the goal of saving the tooth.
Understanding standard treatment options
An individual who suffers a tooth injury may undergo one of several endodontic procedures, depending on the nature of the injury. A dislodged (luxated) tooth can often be saved at the office by pushing it back into place. An adult may also need to get a root canal, which is then topped off by a cap or crown.
If the patient has a tooth entirely knocked out, the endodontist can replace the tooth in the socket and apply a splint to stabilize it. Sometimes these teeth can be re-implanted and saved, though they may require a root canal.
A cracked tooth may be treated with a filling or a crown. The choice of a filling or crown depends on how serious the damage is. Those treatments will not work if the pulp, the soft tissue inside the tooth has been exposed. These cases require a root canal and a crown or a cap. A tooth that has been severely cracked may need to be extracted, though a crown may also suffice.
Sometimes a fractured tooth is not readily detectable. These root fractures can be repaired by applying a splint, though the odds of success depend on where the fracture happened. If the tooth is fractured below, but near the gum line, saving the tooth may be more likely compared to a fracture down near the root tip. Sometimes a tooth damaged by root fracture has to be extracted.
Sports accidents, falls in the home, and a dozen other causes sometimes cause severe tooth damage that reaches the soft tissue inside the tooth. A general dentist may refer a patient to an endodontist to address such injuries. A cracked, broken, or loose tooth might be saved by splinting or a root canal, or it may have to be extracted.
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