What is endodontics?
Endodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on treating the inside of the tooth. Sometimes referred to as the practice of root canal therapy, endodontics actually encompasses a wide range of surgical and nonsurgical procedures that keep the teeth free from diseases and injuries of the pulp and surrounding tissue. As with other dental specialties, the goal of endodontics is to maintain good oral health.
What does an endodontist do?
An endodontist treats problems of the dental pulp, the soft tissue within the tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue that provide nutrients to the tooth as it grows. Dental pulp extends from the top of the tooth all the way down to the end of the root. Dental pulp is vital to the growth and development of healthy teeth, but is not necessarily needed once the tooth has fully matured.
When is endodontic treatment needed?
Endodontic treatment is needed when the dental pulp becomes infected or inflamed. This may occur as a result of decay, repeated dental procedures, a crack or chip in the tooth, or an injury with no visible signs of damage. When the pulp is infected, it can lead to pain or the development of an abscess. In addition, the tooth may have increased sensitivity, tenderness and discoloration. To treat this condition, an endodontist may perform a root canal, during which the diseased pulp is removed, and the tooth cleaned and sealed to prevent further damage.
- National Institutes of Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- U.S. National Library of Medicine