Endodontics is the branch of dentistry which is concerned with the morphology, physiology and pathology of the human dental pulp and periradicular tissues. Its study and practice encompass the basic clinical sciences including biology of the normal pulp; the etiology, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries of the pulp: and associated periradicular conditions.
The scope of the special area of dental practice known as endodontics is defined by the educational requirements for the training of a specialist in the discipline. Thus defined, the scope of endodontics includes, but is not limited to, the differential diagnosis and treatment of oral pains of pulpal and/or periradicular origin; vital pulp therapy such as pulp capping and pulpotomy; root canal therapy such as pulpectomy, nonsurgical treatment of root canal systems with or without periradicular pathosis of pulpal origin, and the obturation of these root canal systems; selective surgical removal of pathological tissues resulting from pulpal pathosis, intentional replantation and replantation of avulsed teeth: surgical removal of tooth structure such as in apicoectomy, hemisection, and root amputation; endodontic implants, bleaching of discolored dentin and enamel (teeth); retreatment of teeth previously treated endodontically, and treatment procedures related to coronal restorations by means of post and/or cores involving the root canal space.
When Endodontic Treatment is needed?
Endodontic treatment becomes necessary when the pulp is inflamed or infected. The most common causes of infection are deep decay , injury from an accident , a crack or a leaking filling. Often these defects (cracks and leaking fillings especially) occur without noticeable damage to the tooth. Dentist will be able to diagnose all of these situations and carry out the most appropriate treatment to ease your discomfort.
The Root Canal Therapy Procedure
Following a thorough clinical examination and review of your x-rays, a tailored treatment plan is developed, which will outline the most appropriate course of treatment for your personal situation. Endodontic treatment (root canal) is generally completed in one – three appointments, depending on the extent of the infection and your current state of oral and general health.
For your comfort, a local anaesthetic is usually administered to numb your tooth and surrounding area, making for a comfortable procedure. A latex sheet called a dam is placed around the tooth being treated. This will prevent bacteria from entering the tooth.
A small opening is carefully made in the top of the tooth with the aid of an operating microscope. This enables your Endodontist to gently remove the infected pulp using specially designed instruments.
Once the pulp is removed, your root canals are cleaned, disinfected and reshaped.
The next step is to fill the root canals with a biocompatible material, usually tiny cones of rubber-like material called “gutta-percha”. Gutta-percha is placed to ensure the root canals are completely sealed and assist in preventing re-infection. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed over the access opening.
After your tooth has been successfully treated, it is important you schedule an appointment with your dentist so any temporary filling can be replaced with a permanent restoration, most often a crown. In some cases where there has been extensive damage to the natural tooth structure, a post may be required to aid in the retention of the crown.