What is Endodontics?


Endodontics is the realm of dentistry that deals with the inside of a tooth. Teeth are hollow, and the hollow space within each tooth contains nerves and blood vessels. Each root of each tooth has a tiny opening at the tip of the root where these nerves and blood vessels enter the tooth.  This soft tissue is called the pulp, and the hollow space is the pulp chamber. The pulp provides hydration, nourishment and sensation to the teeth.

An endodontist is a dental specialist who focuses on the treatment of this pulp tissue, the pulp chamber and any diseases associated with them. Dr. Cohen received three years of additional education and training and underwent an additional board certification process. Fewer than 30% of endodontists receive this board certification.

What is a Root Canal?

The term “root canal” is actually an anatomical one, describing the hollow space within the root of each tooth.  It’s long and narrow, so we call it a canal. However, most people use this term to describe the dental procedure root canal treatment, or RCT. 

A root canal treatment removes the pulp tissue from the hollow chamber inside the tooth, cleans the interior surface of the root, and fills it with an inert material (one that does not cause any reaction or rejection by the body). Because of wide variations in root anatomy, root canals can be very simple — or very complex. Some roots have canals that twist and turn and branch off, making the root canal treatment quite complicated.

Why Do Teeth Need Root Canal Treatments?

The pulp tissue within a tooth has a limited ability to heal itself.  Injuries to this delicate tissue in the form of bacterial invasion (from large cavities or cracks) or trauma to the tooth can irreversibly damage the pulp tissue.  This irreversible inflammation causes a toothache, so many people who need root canals know that they need dental treatment. 

The tricky thing about teeth needing root canals is that they don’t all hurt.  In some cases, the nerve inside the tooth (that sends pain signals to the brain) just dies.  A dead nerve cannot send any signals, so the tooth does not hurt. Dead tissue in the body always attracts bacteria and will develop serious infections over time.  The dead pulp tissue is a ticking time bomb and should be removed with a root canal treatment as soon as it’s discovered.

What Else Does an Endodontist Do?

Aside from providing the highest quality of root canal treatments, endodontists are experts in several other areas as well.

Diagnosis of Complex Tooth Pain

Many other conditions disguise themselves as toothaches, and not every tooth with pain needs a root canal.  Your endodontist performs detailed diagnostic tests on multiple teeth when someone experiences tooth pain.  If the pain is not coming from a problem within the tooth, then a root canal will not fix the problem. Endodontists help determine the source of a toothache so the correct treatment takes place. 

Retreatment of Failed Root Canals

A failed root canal is one that becomes reinfected at any point in the future.  There are many different reasons for the failure of a root canal. An endodontist determines whether a retreatment of the root canal will have a successful long-term prognosis. Root canal retreatments are procedures that remove the existing root canal filling, clean the interior surface of the canals, treat any bacterial infection present, and re-fill the canals.

Surgery of Tooth Roots

In some cases, the infection within a tooth root does not respond to root canal treatment, which approaches the infection from the inside of the tooth.  An endodontist can also approach a tooth root from the outside, by accessing the end of the root surgically. 

Treatment of Resorption

Resorption is an unusual phenomenon in which the cells either on the outside or inside of the root malfunction and begin to dissolve the hard tooth structure.  Both cause large defects in the tooth. An endodontist works to remove these malfunctioning cells, stop the resorption process, and restore the tooth in hopes of saving it.  Resorption is difficult to treat and should always involve an endodontist’s intervention.

Management of Developing Tooth Roots

In young children, the teeth appear in the mouth before the roots have completely formed.  If these young teeth sustain injuries, it can cause the growth of the root to stop. Endodontists use specialized materials and techniques to stimulate growth and development of these immature roots so the teeth will be strong enough to last the child’s lifetime.

Experienced Specialists at Rockland Dental Specialists

Rockland Dental Specialists offers endodontic care in the New City, NY area.  Dr. Lisa Nava Cohen and Dr. Shalom Mintz are here to bring you excellent oral care with more than two decades of combined experience. They are passionate about helping patients resolve their gum disease and maintain their overall oral health. Contact us today at (845) 809-0109 to speak with one of our team members about the endodontic services we offer or book an appointment online here.


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