Endodontics is the science of treating problems with the tissue inside the tooth.

When this tissue or the tissue surrounding the tooth root is diseased or damaged due to decay or trauma, endodontic treatment typically can save the tooth. Endodontics employ a range of endodontic procedures to save natural teeth, including performing root canals (the most common endodontic procedure), repairing cracked teeth and replacing avulsed teeth (teeth knocked out by injury). 

Patients may need endodontic treatment, including root canals, if they experience any of the following symptoms

  • Prolonged dental sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Tenderness of teeth to touch and chewing
  • Facial or oral swelling

Root canal treatment is needed when the pulp (the soft tissue inside the tooth) becomes inflamed or infected as a result of injury, deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a cracked or chipped tooth. Most patients who have had a root canal performed by an endodontist describe the procedures as virtually painless.

An endodontic procedure or root canal is actually a specialized filling. When the nerve (pulp tissue) of the tooth is damaged and is dead or dying, it is cleaned out of the tooth. The area which the nerve once occupied is enlarged and a special filling is placed to seal it off. The main difference between a regular tooth and an endodontically treated tooth is that without the internal tissue in the tooth, it becomes brittle and must be restored with a crown to remain strong in most situations.