Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about dentistry and oral health issues.  If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.

Click on a question below to see the answer.

'Endo' is the Greek word for 'inside' and 'odons" is the Greek word for 'tooth'. Endodontic treatment (or "root canal") is one of the most common dental procedures, and treats problems associated with the tooth pulp and surrounding tissues. Inside the tooth there is a space where the pulp (commonly called "the nerve") of the tooth resides. The pulp is in a chamber which extends from the crown of the tooth of the tip of the roots, where it connects to the tissues surrounding the root. The pulp is important during a tooth's growth and development. However, once a tooth is fully mature it can survive without the pulp, because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues that surround the roots. So if the pulp becomes painful or infected, it can be removed and the tooth remains healthy.

Endodontic treatment (commonly called a "root canal") is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. This can have many causes, such as deep decay, repeated dental procedures, or a crack in the tooth. In addition, a blow to a tooth may cause pulp inflammation even if the tooth has no visible damage. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess (infection at the end of the root).

Signs of pulp damage can include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth and swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums. Sometimes, there is a slow degradation of the pulp over time and you may not have any symptoms.

The Endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, cleans and shapes the inside of the tooth, then fills and seals the space. This is commonly called a "root canal". Afterwards, you will return to your dentist who will place a crown or other restoration on the tooth to complete the treatment.

Endodontists such as Dr. Tolwin have received a minimum of two years of additional training in the dental specialty known as endodontics. This additional training in complex and difficult cases brings an additional level of expertise to your endodontic treatment. Endodontists focus on this area of dentistry exclusively, so the level of experience in diagnosing and treating your individual problem is enhanced.


With over 30 years of experience as an Endodontist in downtown  Chicago, Dr. Tolwin incorporates the latest in technological advances, such as microscopic surgery and digital radiography. But most importantly, Dr. Tolwin is dedicated to providing his patients with compassionate and pain free treatment. Aware of the negative reputation this procedure has, Dr. Tolwin strives to make your experience quick and painless, making you one of the many people who know that root canal treatment is not anything to stress about. 


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