Endodontics and Root Canal Treatment

Endodontics is the branch of dentistry concerned with diseases of the human dental pulp and the surrounding tissues. The term 'root canal treatment' refers to the most common treatment rendered by an endodontist, which is the procedure of cleaning diseased or infected tissue from inside the tooth followed by the placement of a hermetic seal or three-dimensional dental filling in the space (root canal) formerly occupied by this tissue. Using a local anesthetic, there is little or no discomfort to the procedure. The main benefit of a root canal treatment is the saving of a tooth which would otherwise require a tooth extraction. This enables the tooth to remain in the mouth and contribute to a sound, healthy and functional dentition for many years if not for a lifetime. A general dentist may also perform root canal treatment. The scope of endodontics includes, but is not limited to, the differential diagnosis and treatment of oral pains of pulpal and/or periapical origin; vital pulp therapy such as pulp capping and pulpotomy; nonsurgical treatment of root canal systems, and the three dimensional filling of these systems; surgical root canal treatment to remove pathology from the bone; hemisection; the intentional replantation of teeth and retreatment of teeth previously treated endodontically.

How Can I Tell if I Might Need a Root Canal Treatment?

  • Pain, either spontaneous or set off by hot, cold, or by chewing. Often the toothache will linger for at least several minutes after eating or drinking something hot or cold. A tooth may also hurt and not be affected by either hot or cold.
  • Swelling of the gum near a tooth or swelling of your face.
  • Sensitive teeth remaining several weeks after any fillings, dental crowns or gum treatment (periodontal disease treatment).
  • Your dentist filled a deep cavity and told you it was close to the nerve of the tooth.
  • If extensive capping and dental bridge work is planned by your dentist. Borderline disease is best diagnosed and treated before this extensive work is started.
  • An X-ray examination reveals a shadow at the end of the tooth root. Pain may or may not be present.
If you are experiencing any of these problems, please ask your dentist for a dental examination. Many general dentists refer their patients to an endodontist for their endodontic needs. Endodontists have received advanced training and have learned the techniques to give you the very best dental care. Remember, root canal treatment doesn't cause pain, it relieves pain. Modern endodontic (root canal) therapy is a predictable way of keeping your teeth for many years.