Endodontics is a discipline that focuses on the soft tissue within teeth. Called the dental pulp, this tissue contains the tooth’s nerves and blood vessels. When it gets damaged or infected, it needs to be removed. This intervention is called a root canal or endodontic treatment.
How does dental pulp become infected?
Dental pulp is protected by the tooth’s hard shell. Sometimes, a defective restoration, injury, broken tooth or deep cavity exposes the pulp. Bacteria can then attack and contaminate the nerves. An x-ray can confirm an infection and the presence of an abscess.
Symptoms of a possible root canal infection:
- Sharp, throbbing pain
- Sensitivity to heat or cold
- Blackened tooth (if the tooth suffered an injury)
What are the steps of a root canal?
- Using local anesthesia, the dentist makes a small incision in the tooth to remove the pulp
- After removing the damaged tissue, the cavity is cleaned and disinfected
- The canal is filled and sealed using dental cement
- The tooth is then sealed with a filling or a crown
Endodontic treatments are usually painless and can save a tooth that would otherwise have been extracted.