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Clayton Endodontics

Clayton, NC


General Information

What is an Endodontist and what do they do?

Endodontists are dentists who specialize in maintaining teeth through endodontic therapy -- procedures, involving the soft inner tissue of the teeth, called the pulp.  The word "endodontic" comes from "endo" meaning inside and "odont" meaning tooth.  Like many medical terms, it's Greek.  All dentists are trained in diagnosis and endodontic therapy. However, some teeth can be especially difficult to diagnose and treat.  That’s why you may have been referred to an endodontic specialist.

In addition to dental school, endodontists receive two or more years of advanced education in this kind of treatment. They study root canal techniques and procedures in greater depth, for diagnosis and treatment of more difficult cases. For this reason, many dentists choose to refer their patients to endodontists.

Diagnoses and Treats Pain

Oral pain such as toothaches or cracked / fractured teeth can often be difficult to pinpoint.  Because of the vast network of nerves in the mouth, the pain of a damaged or diseased tooth often is felt in another tooth and/or in the head, neck, or ear. An endodontist is a specialist in diagnosing and treating this type of pain.

Root canal treatment is necessary for in two main reasons: 1) The pulp tissue (the nerve and blood vessel complex inside the tooth) becomes significantly inflamed, often causing pain to temperature and/or sweets; 2) When the pulp tissue becomes necrotic, or "dies" inside the tooth, which leads to a bacterial infection inside the tooth, with or without the presence of a dental abscess. The goal of root canal treatment is to alleviate symptoms and to prevent or treat dental infections caused by the tooth. 

Treats Traumatic Injuries

Pulp damage is sometimes caused by a blow to the mouth, and the endodontist specializes in treating these traumatic injuries. For example, a blow to a child's permanent tooth that is not fully developed can cause the root to stop growing. A procedure called regeneration attempts to re-stimulate the continued development of the tooth. An endodontist is specially trained in procedures for replanting teeth that have been knocked out of their sockets.

What Happens During Endodontic Treatment? or What is a Root Canal?

A local anesthetic will be given to ensure you feel comfortable during treatment.  A sheet of non-latex rubber called the "rubber dam" will be placed around the tooth to isolate it, hence keeping it clean and dry during treatment. The treatment consists of three or four basic steps, but the number of visits will depend on your particular case.  Some treatments take multiple visits but many are just a single visitit depends on the degree of infection/inflammation and degree of treatment difficulty.  It's more important to do it the very best we can then to meet a specific time criteria.  

Root canal (or endodontic) therapy has a very high degree of success, up to 90% to 95%.  We will discuss with you the chances of success before any endodontic procedure to help you make an informed decision. There are, of course, no guarantees in any medical or dental procedure as there are so many variables at play when treating the human body.   If a root canal or endodontic therapy is unsuccessful or fails you still have treatment options to save your natural tooth. 

Will I need to return to your office for Additional Visits?

Once endodontic therapy is completed your tooth should be examined periodically, usually every 6 - 12 months.  This allows us to make sure the tooth has healed or is healing properly.  You will be sent a notice in the mail when we feel it is appropriate to reevaluate the area.  Since an abscess may take 2 years to heal, our office will reevaluate the tooth for at least 2 years.


Occasionally a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment fails to heal or pain continues despite therapy. Although rare, sometimes a tooth initially responds to root canal therapy but becomes painful or diseased months or years later. When either of these situations occur, the tooth often can be maintained with a second endodontic treatment.