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Andrew L Rudd DDS MS PA

Chapel Hill Endodontics
Practice Limited to Conventional and Microsurgical Root Canal Therapy

What is an Endodontist and What Does an Endodontist 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 the Greek word "endo" meaning inside and the Greek word "odont" meaning tooth. All dentists are trained in diagnosis and endodontic therapy, however, some teeth can be especially difficult to diagnose and treat.

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

Chapel Hill, Durham NC hilsborough endodontist rootcanal
What Happens During Endodontic Treatment? or What is a Root Canal?

A local anesthetic will be given.  A sheet of latex called the "rubber dam" (nonlatex if required, may be used) will be placed around the tooth to isolate it,  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 2 visits but many are just a single visit.  Occasionally 3 appointments are needed.

In any case, the length of treatment depends on the extent of infection/inflammation and degree of treatment difficulty.  ToDr. Rudd, it's more important to take whatever time is necessary for a successful outcome then to meet a specific time criteria. 

There are, of course, no guarantees.  Root canal or endodontic therapy has a very high degree of success, up to 95%.  Occasionally the anatomy of  a tooth may not allow the endodontist to predict with accuracy the chances of  a successful outcome.  We will discuss with you the chances of success so that you may make an informed decision --  whether to treat or extract the tooth.   If a root canal or endodontic therapy is unsuccessful or fails, you still may have other options.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Pain

Oral pain such as that from 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.

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 dislodged from their sockets.


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.

Will I feel pain during or after the procedure?

For some patients a toothache is the main reason for seeking treatment. Fortunately, modern anesthetics can make the procedure pain-free in most cases. Seeking treatment early makes the procedure more comfortable, so don't wait.   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. In most cases over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications are recommended for three to seven days.   Dr. Rudd can prescribe other medications but they are rarely required.

Proudly serving Chapel Hill, Durham, Hillsborough, Carrboro, Pittsboro and surrounding Triangle Communities since 2003.