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Taylor Endodontics, Endodontist, Root Canal Therapy, Jay Taylor DDS - Fargo, North Dakota & Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

Fargo, ND • Detroit Lakes, Minnesota


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.

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

A local anesthetic will be given.  A sheet of latex called the "rubber dam" (we've got nonlatex ones too) will be placed around the tooth to isolate it, hence keeping it clean and dry during treatment.  The treatment consists of four basic steps, but the number of visits will depend on your particular case.  Most treatments are completed in one visit, although occasionally consecutive appointments are needed.

In any case, it depends on the degree of infection/inflammation and degree of treatment difficulty.  To me, it's more important to do it the very best we can then to meet a specific time criteria.  Let's look at the basic steps for nonsurgical endodontic therapy.

Let's look at the basic steps for nonsurgical endodontic therapy.

 Step 1:  An opening is made in the surface of the tooth

Step 2:  The pulp is removed from the pulp chamber and root canals.  Tiny instruments called files are used to clean the canals and shape them to a form that will ensure they will be well sealed.  

Step 3:  The root canals are filled and sealed with a material that prevents bacteria from re-entering.  Radiographs (x-rays) are taken prior and post-treatment. 

step 4:  The opening in the tooth will be filled with either a temporary or permanent filling during your treatment visit, depending on your restoration plan.  it is important to return promptly to your general dentist if a temporary is placed.  A temporary filling can loosen and/or leak which can compromise the root canal treatment, causing it to fail and therefore needing re-treatment. 

Why do I need a root canal?

 The pulp, or soft inner tissue of your tooth, is normally surrounded and protected by a layer of dentin.  The dentin is protected by a layer of enamel above the gumline and is covered by cementum below the gumline.  When a deep cavity, decay or crack destroys these protective layers, the pulp is exposed to the bacteria in your mouth.  This can result in infection, inflammation and eventually necrosis (pulp death).  A severe blow to the tooth can also damage the pulp.  Irritants may then escape from the end of the root and cause a diseased area (apical lesion) in the bone. 

Root canal treatment removes the damaged pulp and irritants.  This allows the bone surrounding the root end to repair and heal. 

Treating 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 apexification stimulates bone to be deposited at the end of the root which makes it possible to then save the tooth through a root canal procedure. An endodontist is specially trained in procedures for replanting teeth that have been knocked out of their sockets.

Diagnoses and 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.


Will I experience discomfort following my appointment?

Most patients experience a little soreness after treatment.. Over-the-counter analgesics like ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen usually relieve the discomfort.  If severe pain or swelling occur you should call as you may need an antibiotic.  

Generally people return to work or continue with their daily plans. 



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.


 Apicoectomy is an endodontic surgery procedure which involves removing the tip of the root and sealing the root canal.   The purpose is to fight an infection in the tissues surrounding the tip of the root and save the tooth from extraction.  

An apicoectomy is usually only performed after a root canal has failed.  The majority of these cases are caused by problems near the tip (apex) of the root.

During an apicoectomy an incision is made in the gum tissue so that the root is accessible.  The edge of the root tip up to the problem area is removed, along with any infected surrounding tissues.  If needed, the final 3-4 mm of the root canal are cleaned and filled with a biocompatible material called a retrofill.   

Normally after a successful apicoectomy infection will disappear and the bone tissue around the root tip will heal within a few months.  An infection that persists indicates the apicoectomy has not been successful and the tooth  will require extraction

Apicoectomy success rate is high if performed by a skilled endodontist, but as in all surgery procedures there are always risk of complications and failure.