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What is an Endodontist?

An Endodontist is a dentist who has undergone a minimum of 2 years of extra
postgraduate training.  In Dr. Odabashian's case, he continued his education doing an extra year of publishable research to earn his Master's Degrees in Endodontics.  The Specialty training allows an Endodontist to:

  1. deal with diseases of the dental pulp and supporting structures.
  2. diagnose facial pain and related problems. Your general dentist sometimes refers patients for consultation when the diagnosis is complicated or when treatment is more difficult than normal.
  3. treat traumatic injuries to the teeth resulting from sports injuries or accidents.
  4. manage pain and swelling resulting from infected teeth.

Aside from providing treatment, Dr. Odabashian's role is also that of an educator.  He is a part time Lecturer at Loma Linda University, School of Dentistry (LLUSD), Department of Graduate Endodontics, as well as being an Assistant Professor of Clinical Sciences at University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV).  This is one way that Dr. Odabashian stays current with the vast amount of new knowledge in Endodontics, as well as to give back to the field of Endodontics by way of sharing his knowledge and experience with dental students and endodontic residents.  It is important that patients understand why they require treatment, what the proposed treatment involves and what they can do to ensure the best possible outcome.  Dr. Odabashian believes that a properly informed patient has the best chance of achieving the optimal result. 

What is Endodontics?

Endodontics is a specialty within Dentistry that deals with diseases of the dental pulp and its supporting structures.  Endodontists are Dentists with special post-graduate training in this field.  Endodontists are also experienced at finding the cause of oral and facial pain that has been difficult to diagnose.

Although general dentists can perform Endodontic treatment, patients are often referred to an Endodontist when the case is more complicated or difficult than usual.

In order to understand Endodontic treatment, it helps to know something about the anatomy of a tooth.  Teeth have several layers.  The outside layer of the tooth is composed of a hard layer called enamel.  Enamel is supported by an inner layer called dentin, which has at its center a soft tissue known as the pulp.  The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue that are responsible for forming the surrounding dentin and enamel during tooth development.  The pulp receives its supply of nourishment from vessels which enter the end of the root.  Although the pulp is important during development of the tooth, it is not necessary for the functioning of the tooth.

Why would I need Endodontic treatment?

Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected.  The most common reasons for inflammation or infection are deep cavities (caries), repeated dental procedures, or cracks.  Trauma can also cause inflammation and often shows up as discoloration of the tooth.  If pulpal inflammation or infection are left untreated, it can lead to an abscess, resulting in swelling and/or pain.

Signs and Symptoms

Indications that treatment is necessary include prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling or tenderness of the tooth or surrounding gums.  Sometimes there are no symptoms.

How Can Endodontic Treatment help me?

The Endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the canal system and then seals the prepared space.  Once treatment is completed, you will likely be instructed to return to your dentist for permanent restoration of the tooth.  The final restoration is an important part of treatment because it seals the cleaned canals from the oral environment, protecting against re-infection.

Will I feel pain during or after the procedure?

Toothache pain is the primary reason for patients to seek treatment by an Endodontist.  Fortunately, modern anesthetics make the procedure pain free in most cases.  Seeking treatment early makes the procedure more comfortable, so don't wait.  When caught early, treatment should feel no different than having a regular filling.  For the first few days after treatment, there may be some sensitivity to biting pressure, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure.  Sometimes over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen are recommended for relief of discomfort as needed.  Dr. Odabashian and Dr. Owatz can prescribe other medications, however, they are rarely needed.