The Greek word for “inside” is “endo” and the Greek word for “tooth” is “odont.” Therefore, “endodontic” treatment means that the inside of the tooth is being treated. A root canal is one type of endodontic procedure.
To understand the process of endodontic treatment, it is helpful to know more about the anatomy of a tooth. Under the white enamel and a hard layer called dentin, there is a soft tissue called pulp. During tooth development, the pulp creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth. It contains nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels.
The pulp reaches from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots. At the roots, it connects to the tissues surrounding the root. The pulp is essential for a tooth’s development and growth, but once the tooth is fully mature, it can survive without it. This is because the tissues around the tooth continue to nourish it.
When the soft tissue inside the root canal (the pulp) gets infected or inflamed, endodontic treatment is needed. A few things that could have caused the infection or inflammation:
- A crack or chip in the tooth
- Deep decay
- Injury to the tooth, even when there are no visible chips or cracks
- Repeated dental procedures done on the tooth
If the inflammation or infection is not treated, it can cause severe pain or lead to an abscess.
During the endodontic procedure, the endodontist will remove the infected or inflamed pulp. They will then shape and clean the inside of the root canal and fill and seal the space. Finally, a crown will be put on the tooth to protect and restore it. Once the process is complete, the tooth will function normally again.