Endodontics is a dental specialty which treats infected teeth, gums, and root canals (hollow interiors of teeth). Endodontists perform root canal treatments (also called root canals) and restorative procedures such as the placement of crowns. Root canal treatment eliminates the areas of infection in a tooth by removing the infected 'pulp,' the tissue and blood vessels inside the tooth chamber.
Endodontists may treat the following conditions, among others:
Endodontists may diagnose these disorders through imaging, screening, and biopsy (tissue sample) tests. Imaging technology such as X-rays reveal dental structures and show if a tooth is cracked. During an evaluation, an endodontist may also use some basic techniques to determine the health of patients' teeth. Tapping or applying a cold swab on a tooth may reveal increased sensitivity and likelihood of infection.
Root canal treatment aims to preserve patients' natural teeth to avoid tooth extraction. Local anesthesia is applied to numb a patient's tooth. Endodontists then drill a tiny hole in the bottom of this tooth, allowing them to access the inner tooth root. A pulpectomy is performed, where the infected root pulp is removed. Endodontists fill the tooth and apply a crown or dental implant. The tooth is then fully functional, but will not grow.