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Patient Information

Root canal specialist Endodontist Scarsdale Eastchester Hartsdale White Plains Yonkers Westchester NY
What is an Endodontist, a "root canal specialist," 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 a Westchester endodontic root canal specialist such as Dr. Helen Chiao, who received an additional 3 years of post-graduate training at Harvard in "root canal" surgical and non-surgical treatments and is also board certified in endodontics through the American Board of Endodontics. Dr. Helen Chiao, your Westchester root canal specialist in Hartsdale, NY, near Scarsdale, Eastchester, White Plains, and Yonkers, is a highly qualified, well-trained and experienced root canal specialist who adheres to a code of excellence in the field of endodontics.

In addition to dental school, endodontists receive two or more years of advanced education in this kind of treatment. Dr. Helen Chiao received an additional 3 years of training at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine in the Advanced Graduate Program of Endodontics after her dental and medical education at Harvard University.  Endodontists study root canal techniques and procedures in greater depth, for diagnosis and treatment of more difficult cases. For this reason, many dentists in Westchester choose to refer their patients to endodontists such as Dr. Helen Chiao for her excellence, expertise and experience in endodontic diagnosis, clinical and surgical root canal therapies and overall patient care.  

Dr. Helen Chiao Westchester Root Canal Specialist Endodontist Scarsdale Hartsdale White Plains Mt Kisco Yonkers NY
What Happens During Endodontic Treatment with Dr. Helen Chiao? or 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 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 or more appointments are needed.

Generally, your appointment type and length will depend on the degree of infection/inflammation and degree of treatment difficulty.  To Dr. Helen Chiao, Westchester's Premier New York Endodontist, it is more important to treat patients the best way possible then to meet a specific time criteria.  Let's look at the basic steps for nonsurgical endodontic therapy.

There are, of course, no guarantees in medical and or dental procedures.  Root canal or endodontic therapy has a very high degree of success, up to 98%.  Teeth which can be treated near ideal have a success rate up to ninety eight percent!  Dr. Helen Chiao, Westchester's root canal specialist will discuss with you the chances of success before any endodontic procedure to help you make an informed decision.  If a root canal or endodontic therapy is unsuccessful or fails you still have options.

Root canal specialist Endodontist Scarsdale Eastchester Hartsdale White Plains Yonkers Westchester NY
Dr. Helen Chiao, Westchester's Root Canal Specialist, Endodontist Diagnoses and Treats 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. Dr. Helen Chiao is a dually Harvard trained, board certified specialist in endodontics or root canal therapies and is an expert in diagnosing and treating this type of root canal related tooth pain.  Dr. Helen Chiao, your Westchester root canal endodontic specialist has extensive experience, clinical expertise and excellence in patient treatment and endodontic care when it comes to root canal diagnosis and endodontic procedures.  

Root canal specialist Endodontist Scarsdale Eastchester Hartsdale White Plains Yonkers Westchester NY

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.  Dr. Helen Chiao, Westchester's root canal endodontic specialist can help you determine if secondary non-surgical root canal treatment is a viable treatment option for you, and when possible, provide excellence in retreatment endodontics to help save your natural teeth.  

Root canal specialist Endodontist Scarsdale Eastchester Hartsdale White Plains Yonkers Westchester NY
Apicoectomies - Root Canal Surgery

In cases where your infection is chronic, or non-healing even after non-surgical endodontic treatment, sometimes this can be due to a large abscess and or cyst formation around the root of your tooth.  To save such teeth may require root-end surgery also known as "Apicoectomy," where your gum tissues are reflected back to expose the infected portion of the bone and tooth root.  The infected root segment is then surgically removed, the resected root-end ultrasonically cleaned and packed with surgical root repair material, and then the bone may be packed with bone conducting material before repositioning the gum tissues for suturing and optimal healing.  Follow-up every 3 months up to 1 year may be recommended after root canal surgery.  If you were told by your dentist that you might need root canal surgery and or are not sure you can save your tooth via root canal surgery, and want a clear diagnosis, contact Dr. Helen Chiao, Westchester Endodontist, a highly skilled, highly experienced, dually Harvard trained, board certified endodontist who routinely performs endodontic surgery, for an preliminary surgical consultation appointment.  

Root canal specialist Endodontist Scarsdale Eastchester Hartsdale White Plains Yonkers Westchester NY
Cracked Teeth

If your tooth is cracked, the location and type of crack may dictate whether the tooth can or cannot be saved.  In cases where the tooth is cracked beyond a certain area, it may not be possible to restore your tooth after root canal therapy.  Dr. Helen Chiao, your Westchester root canal endodontic specialist, will work hand-in-hand with your restorative dentist to determine if moving forward with treatment(s) is possible to save your tooth.  If you are not sure your tooth can be saved or not, and would like a second opinion from an experienced expert in endodontics, contact Dr. Helen Chiao, a dentist who specializes in root canals in Westchester- Hartsdale, NY for a consultation.  

Root canal specialist Endodontist Greenwich Scarsdale Eastchester Hartsdale White Plains Yonkers Westchester NY
Dental Trauma, Root Resorption & Pediatric Endodontics


Sports injuries, traumatic falls, and dental-facial accidents can and do happen.  Teeth that have been knocked out of the socket ("avulsed"), pushed into the socket ("intruded"), pushed off angle or displaced ("luxated"), chipped or cracked may cause nerve damage in the tooth.  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. Dr. Helen Chiao, Westchester's premier endodontist, dually Harvard-trained, board certified root canal specialist, is also specially trained in procedures for replanting teeth that have been knocked out of their sockets. With dental trauma, the risk of nerve necrosis increases, as does possible internal and or external root resorption.  Root resorption is a tricky phenomenon that often follows an unpredictable course and requires close follow-up and expert endodontic care when needed.  It is best to see your dentist first, then see an endodontist within 2 weeks of your dental trauma to get a baseline value for the status of your tooth nerve and follow-up accordingly.  Dr. Helen Chiao has extensive experience and expertise in treating patients with various dental traumas and root resorption and would be happy to answer your questions at a root canal consultation visit.  

Root canal specialist Endodontist Scarsdale Eastchester Hartsdale White Plains Yonkers Greenwich Westchester NY
Dental Implants

Unfortunately, sometimes (e.g.- due to non-restorability, severe cracked tooth and or decay into your root and canal space(s), extensive root resorption beyond repair) your natural tooth cannot be saved.  This unfortunate reality is something that must be diagnosed and confirmed after seeing an endodontist. Dr. Helen Chiao, a Hartsdale dentist who specializes in root canal therapies, has extensive experience, excellence in skill and clinical expertise in diagnosing whether or not a tooth can or cannot be saved. Fortunately, dental implants are a viable option for tooth replacement and restoration.  In order for you to receive the proper care moving forward, Dr. Helen Chiao will clearly communicate with your referring doctor's office(s) your diagnosis, and any recommended treatment(s).  Dr. Helen Chiao's practice in Westchester County is "limited to root canals," and we do not place dental implants in our office.  Dr. Helen Chiao works with highly skilled, highly experienced and well-regarded dental colleagues who do place implants, and would be pleased to make excellent recommendations according to your individual needs. 

Will I need to return to Dr. Helen Chiao's root canal specialty endodontic office for Additional Visits?

Once endodontic root canal therapy is completed your tooth should be examined periodically, usually every 6 - 12 months by Dr. Helen Chiao, Westchester's premier endodontist.  This allows us to make sure the tooth has healed or is healing properly.  Since an abscess can take time (e.g. 1 year minimum) to heal, you can schedule a follow-up appointment when we feel it is appropriate to reevaluate the area.  Dr. Helen Chiao, board certified, dually Harvard-trained endodontist, has a very high follow-up and success rate in her root canal endodontic specialty practice.  Dr. Helen Chiao believes in building strong relationships with her patients, many of whom return for future endodontic care and referral recommendations for other dental specialists. 



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