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Ujwal Sharma

Give your tooth a chance: how to keep your teeth healthy with an American endodontist Sonia Chopra

Photo bySonia Chopra

Sonia Chopra, DDS, is a tooth saver from Charlotte, North Carolina Area. She’s a board-certified endodontist, TEDx speaker, Forbes contributor, author, endodontic instructor, and founder of Ballantyne Endodontics in Charlotte, North Carolina.

On top of running her thriving practice, Dr. Chopra provides groundbreaking digital education and community support to general dentists and endodontists who want to uplevel their technical skills, patient experience, and practice efficiency. Through her thoughtfully-designed courses and in-person programs, such as her award-winning E-School, she is revolutionizing endodontic continuing education through the simple, tangible lessons rooted in her own diverse experience.

Tell us about yourself and your journey. Why did you become an endodontist?

I’m Sonia Chopra, DDS, and I’m the ultimate dental patient. Born without eight teeth, I’m no stranger to the dentist’s office. But it wasn’t until I was confronted with agonizing pain in my mouth that my path toward endodontics began. I wanted to know more about the procedure and share what I learned with others, so I dove back into my college studies, applied for dental school and became an endodontist.

I quickly realized that my experience stemmed from many dental schools’ frantic need to cover a huge amount of information in a short amount of time, leaving the finer points of endodontics for later — a later that never comes. The result, for me, was a series of misdiagnoses that left me in unimaginable pain. Most of my doctors simply didn’t realize that a root canal could save my badly infected tooth. And because I knew other patients suffered just as I had, I wanted to make a difference for patients and providers everywhere. Setting my dream into motion, I opened my own practice.

What Is a Root Canal?

Your tooth may look simple, but it is deceptively complex. When you look in your mouth in the mirror, all you see of your teeth is the white part on top, the enamel. If you’ve ever looked at a tooth that is outside of a mouth (like when your child loses their baby tooth), they have roots coming down from the bottom. These roots are covered with a calcified substance called cementum.

Underneath that enamel and cementum is a layer called dentin, and underneath that is the pulp chamber. The pulp chamber is like the heart of your tooth, where there are blood vessels and nerves that keep your tooth alive and happy.

But sometimes, due to a crack, decay, cavities, or damage to your teeth, bacteria can get inside the pulp and the root canals inside your tooth. This infection can be painful, and it can lead to complications if left untreated.
Photo bySonia Chopra

A root canal is a procedure that helps restore your tooth to health. I like to use a delicious analogy to explain root canals. Imagine your roots are like a Twinkie. There’s dirty cream inside, which you want to remove. You drill a little hole to get to the inside of the pastry. After removing the dirty cream, you give it some fresh cream and seal it up, good as new.

In the same way, your dentist will numb you up to make sure the process is painless, create a tiny hole to access the interior of your tooth, remove the harmful bacteria inside your tooth down to the tip of every single teeny-tiny canal, and then fill the canals through a process called obturation. Finally, they will seal up the tooth with a permanent restoration so you can resume chewing as normal.

In one of your interviews, I read that your mantra is “Give your tooth a chance.” Could you please explain it?

You may think that having a healthy, natural smile is simply a matter of treating your front teeth well and that it doesn't matter so much if you're missing a tooth or two in the back of your mouth.

Your face's overall appearance depends on the health of every tooth in your jaw. Your ability to eat and speak may not be significantly affected by losing a few molars, but your jawbone will still feel the impact.

As teeth are lost, bone loss begins in the jawbone. The rate of bone loss due to tooth loss is less severe when only one or two teeth are missing compared to when many or all of them are gone.

If your jawbone has deteriorated to the point that dental implants or bridges will not hold, you may have to find another solution for tooth loss, such as traditional dentures or bone grafts. This can also lead to wrinkles, sagging skin, and an unsupported lip due to atrophy. That’s right, root canals can help you stay looking young and beautiful!
Photo bySonia Chopra

If your dentist has told you that you need a root canal, then it’s time to save your natural tooth! Some dentists are comfortable performing root canals, but they generally only do one or two a week, whereas endodontists perform upwards of twenty weekly. Experience really matters, especially on molars, which are more difficult to perform a root canal on than incisors or canines.

My recommendation is that you interview your dentist about whether they use rubber dams, perform extensive diagnostic tests, use 3-D imaging, use operating microscopes, and perform root canals regularly. If they don’t, then you may want to seek out the support of an endodontist.

If your dentist has told you that you need an extraction, then I’d definitely recommend checking in with an endodontist for a second opinion. Remember, extractions are forever, but root canals can save many teeth that otherwise would be condemned to be pulled.

Getting to the core of the problem with your tooth and fixing it as quickly as possible, ideally saving it through a root canal, is best for your mental health and physical health, not to mention your natural beauty. So, reach out to your local endodontist the next time you need a root canal or an extraction, give your tooth a chance, and know that your health is in the best hands.

Could you please tell us a bit about your being an entrepreneur - why did you decide to set up your own school? What is the main mission of your school?

The majority of root canals are performed by general dentists, who do 2 a week, on average. While endodontists perform an average of 25 root canals a week, they make up less than 3% of all dentists.

Simply put, there are not enough endodontists to handle all the root canals the world needs and meet treatment demands. With so many topics to cover, dental schools don’t leave much opportunity to explore the topic, and many schools don’t even have an endodontist on faculty. That is why my goal is to help people enhance their endodontics training so that they can become more efficient and achieve better outcomes.

Learn more at, or follow her on Instagram at @soniachopradds.

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