Gentle Touch
At Ardmore Endodontics, an expert team led by Dr. Kara Fraiman provides painless root canals with skill and compassion
by Bill Donahue

Like many mothers, Kara Fraiman, D.M.D., has been in the position of having to care for a sick, frightened child in need of kindness and understanding, if not a cure. But her past experience is also unlike that of most mothers, and it forever shaped the way she approached her own specialty practice, Ardmore Endodontics, which is located in the Times Building of Ardmore’s Suburban Square.

Dr. Fraiman’s daughter Ashley Faye was born with an incurable neurological disease and, in November 2000, passed away after a valiant fight. In the wake of the tragedy Dr. Fraiman devoted her then-fledgling practice to providing the best, most compassionate care possible—from the soothing living-room-like office that’s flush with natural light to the way staff members interact with each patient, from her gentle approach to anesthesia and pain management to the way the office works with insurance companies on patients’ behalf. The experience also started her down the road to helping other terminally ill children and their families.

“Every person in our office shows as much kindness and compassion as possible,” says Dr. Fraiman, whose practice focuses on root-canal therapy and related procedures. “Everyone is trained specifically that way, to give the patient all the support they need, whether it’s holding their hand during a procedure or the way we give injections. Our main focus is that we care about the patient. … Nobody is overly excited about having root-canal therapy, but what separates us from other offices is that we put forth the extra effort for the individual in terms of care, comfort, making appointments, helping navigate the complexities of insurance and whatever else the patient might need.”

Dr. Fraiman, who was born in Brooklyn and grew up just outside of Manhattan, received her dentistry doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, where she furthered her expertise by earning a certificate in endodontics. While there, she also received formal training in endodontic microsurgery. After completing her years of schooling, she entered into private practice, focusing solely on endodontics, and also spent time as a part-time assistant clinical professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I spent much time on the patient side throughout my daughter’s illness; I know what it feels like to be in that very vulnerable situation,” she says. “Many doctors today just don’t or can’t take the time needed to provide every patient with the individualized care they require. That requirement differs from patient to patient, visit to visit. At Ardmore Endodontics, that is not the case. Our model is to provide for every patient, whatever their needs may be. I think of every patient and treat them as I wanted my daughter to be treated. Every patient is someone’s family member, and I insist that every patient is taken care of the best way possible. That is how I have modeled my entire office, from the patient’s first call until they leave with completed treatment. Our office differentiates itself by adjusting to each patient’s needs, specific to each individual. 

“More often than not,” she continues, “people are nervous when they come in for their root-canal treatment. I sit with each patient prior to beginning treatment for as long as it takes to relax them, answer any questions they may have, and leave extra time for the anesthesia to take full effect. This extra time is already built into my schedule, so I can adjust to each patient’s specific needs at every visit. I also strive to make injections as painless as possible, with a variety of techniques I have learned in my 18 years of practice. If a patient wishes to use nitrous oxide as an aid, our office has that available.”

Technology and Technique
Although Dr. Fraiman’s expertise and compassion are the practice’s greatest assets, she is assisted by a highly experienced staff, as well as technology that has revolutionized the field of endodontics in a relatively short period of time. One such technology is the surgical microscope—the current “standard of care for endodontics,” Dr. Fraiman says—which enables her to see even the most diminutive components of a patient’s tooth with remarkable clarity. 

With the microscope she can, say, discover a crack in a tooth that could prevent a successful root canal. She also uses the microscope for delicate surgeries such as the apicoectomy, in which the tip of a tooth’s root is removed and a specialized filling is placed at the end of a tooth, often in cases where conventional root-canal therapy has failed.

Prior to the microscope, a dentist would have had difficulty diagnosing a cracked tooth. This would lead to a patient spending much time and money having a tooth treated without addressing the true problem. Now with the microscope, because so much more of the tooth is visible, Dr. Fraiman can routinely find cracks in teeth, which helps lead to a greater chance of successful treatment. The microscope is also a valuable tool when it comes to endodontic surgical procedures. Dr. Fraiman’s extensive training in surgical endodontics allows her and the patient to have more treatment options in order to try to save complicated teeth.

“The microscope is a wonderful tool,” she says, “but I also listen closely to what a patient’s primary complaint is because I believe the patient knows themselves better than anybody else. Sometimes it may not be a root-canal problem at all; sometimes it can be a sinus problem or something else altogether. It may be a specific tooth as opposed to another tooth or a sinus infection.”

Other technologies utilized in her practice are geared toward efficient, less painful root-canal treatments. These include quicker, machine-driven root-canal files to replace hand-driven ones, which tended to push irritants toward the bottom of the tooth rather than flush them out. This change has significantly decreased patients’ post-operative pain. In addition, digital radiography has reduced the amount of time a patient spends in the chair, without sacrificing accuracy, and also exposes the patient to significantly less radiation compared with traditional X-rays.

At Ardmore Endodontics, the goal is to have a positive experience. With the advances from the last five to 10 years, a root canal is now a completely painless procedure. Many of Dr. Fraiman’s patients are children, seniors and people with special needs or just someone who may need extra care.

“We had an anxious gentleman who required a root canal,” she says. “His wife accompanied him to the office, and it made him feel better to have his wife sitting in the room with him, holding his hand. It relaxed him, so why would I not let her? We’re going to take care of each and every patient and if he or she were a family member. During treatment, the patient’s comfort is a priority.

“What I want to do here is make someone’s day better,” she continues. “If and when someone needs a root canal, we have an opportunity to make the experience as pleasant as possible. And the results show in patients’ responses. Often they are surprised at how comfortable the root-canal procedure can be. Seeing our patients leave so relieved and content encourages us to do more and to continue to have an impact on each patient’s life that comes through our doors.”

In addition to heading a thriving endodontics practice, Dr. Fraiman spends much of her time with her children and family activities. After the death of her daughter, Dr. Fraiman cofounded Ashley’s Angels, a nonprofit that provides care and support for terminally ill children and their families. Ashley’s Angels, which was named in memory of her daughter Ashley Faye, has been one of the largest community supporters of the Palliative Care Unit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Palliative care represents a team approach to medical care, pain management and the emotional and spiritual needs of sick children and their families.

“I’m grateful to my daughter for what she taught me,” says Dr. Fraiman, mother of four. “She helped me form the kind of care I want to give people. … We are given only one opportunity to live our lives, and we need to make it the best it can be. That’s the greatest lesson of all that I apply to my practice. It’s a lesson that Ashley taught me, and I try to share that with whomever I come in contact with.”

Ardmore Endodontics
Suburban Square
Times Building, Suite 702
Ardmore, PA 19003
Phone: 610-649-5235
Fax: 610-649-4778
Web: |
Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.