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Melanie W. Burns, D.M.D., M.P.H.

Atlanta Center for Endodontics, P.C.

What is an Endodontist?

An Endodontist is a dentist who has received a minimal of two years of advanced specialty training in the diagnosis of dental pain and in treating the diseases of the dental pulp and supporting tissues.

What is Endodontic Therapy?

Endodontic therapy, or root canal therapy, is treatment that saves a tooth that would otherwise require extraction.  It is always better to save your natural tooth, if possible.


Each tooth contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue, known as the pulp, that is responsible for the formation of the tooth during development.  Although the pulp is important during the development of the tooth, it is not necessary for the function of the tooth.  The tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it even after the pulp is removed.


Endodontic therapy is indicated when the pulp inside of the tooth becomes irreversibly damaged.  During endodontic therapy, the inflamed or infected pulp is carefully removed.  The canal system is then meticulously shaped, and sealed and filled.  Treatment can often be performed in a single appointment, but depends on the condition and complexity of the anatomy of your tooth.


Once endodontic therapy is completed, you must return to your general dentist for a permanent restoration, ideally within two to four weeks following the completion of treatment.  Without a permanent restoration in a timely manner, the tooth is at risk to decay or fracture, which may cause the tooth to require extraction.

Do I need endodontic therapy?

Symtoms that indicate that the pulp inside of the tooth is injured include prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to chewing, discoloration of the tooth, or swelling or tenderness in the tissues adjacent to the tooth.  At times, no symptoms are present.


The most common reasons for damage to the pulp are deep cavities, cracks, chips, or trauma.  If pulp inflammation or infections is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.  Rarely, an infection from a tooth can become life threatening.


Dr. Burns will thoroughly evaluate your condition to determine if endodontic therapy is indicated.


Occasionally a tooth that has undergone endodontic therapy does not heal. Additionally,  sometimes a tooth that initially responds to root canal therapy may 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. Burns will assess the condition of the tooth, and discuss with you the prognosis and treatment options available under such circumstances.

Will I need to return to your office for additional visits?

We would like to assess the status of the healing of your tooth following endodontic therapy in six to twelve months.  We will send you a post card to remind you of this visit.  

Where can I obtain more information?

Please visit the website of the American Association of Endodontists at to learn more about the importance of saving teeth, endodontic therapy, and the Board Certification process.