When I went to my most recent dental cleaning, I let the dental technician know that I had some inflammation in my gums on the upper right side. After she took an X-ray and got the dentist involved, I wasn’t surprised to hear that it was infected and that I needed a root canal.
I’ve had a number of root canal procedures done over the years, enough to know that – contrary to what some people think – they aren’t any more painful than more normal dental procedures. All of my previous root canals had been done by my dentist so I was surprised when he told me that he wanted to refer me to someone else – an endodontist.
I had never heard of endodontics before. It’s a dental specialty that’s associated with treatment of the “living” part of the tooth, the dental pulp, including root canal therapy.1
I ended up making 3 trips to the endodontics specialist, Dr. Fulmer, in Conway. The first was for an assessment, where it was determined that I had 2 teeth that needed root canals. The other trips were for each root canal.
There were some interesting aspects to this experience.
I never realized that teeth can have multiple roots. Apparently the first tooth that they did had 4 roots that needed to be cleaned out and filled.
For this procedure I was literally “under the microscope.” Dr. Fulmer uses intraoral microscopy. His microscope actually had two sets of eyepieces, one for him and one for the dental assistant.
Payment was different than what I’m used to. For most medical, optical and dental visits, we usually only have to pay the patient’s portion, whether it be a co-pay amount or partial payment. For these endodontics visits, I had to pay in full each time. Fortunately, for the two root canals, reimbursement from the insurance company came fairly quickly.
Both of these root canals were in teeth that already had crowns. Now those two dental crowns have fillings where they were drilled through for the root canal.
- Root canal – a colloquial term for a dental operation, endodontic therapy, wherein the pulp is cleaned out, the space disinfected and then filled.