An endodontist is a dentist that specializes in the treatment of disorders involving the soft tissue or pulp inside the tooth. In most cases, a dentist will be able to perform the necessary procedures to treat some diseases affecting the pulp. However, in cases where the diagnosis of a condition may be difficult or treatment complicated, you may be referred to an endodontist.
Most commonly, treatment will involve a root canal procedure. This becomes necessary when the pulp of the tooth becomes inflamed which results in pressure on the nerve endings and can be extremely painful. There are many reasons why this type of inflammation may occur. Most commonly it is due to decay which exposes the dentin or outer layer of the pulp (endodontium). However, it can also arise from an injury or another event that has led to a cracked or chipped tooth.
The pain resulting from the inflammation can often be difficult to pinpoint. Pain is often referred to which means that you may feel pain in an entirely different part of the mouth or a different tooth to the one that has been affected. This can make the diagnosis of an impacted tooth difficult which is an area in which an endodontist specializes.
Once the affected tooth (or teeth in some cases) has been identified, a root canal procedure may be performed which removes infected and inflamed pulp, relieving the pressure on the nerve. A root canal is not the removal of the root or nerve in the tooth as many people assume. The pulp is replaced by another material to avoid leaving a space that will be more prone to infection in the future.
Endodontists also specialize in traumatic injuries that may cause damage to the pulp or root of the tooth which could result in many different problems. This is especially important for children where teeth may stop developing due to an injury to the tooth.
An endodontist performs different types of procedures to save a tooth. This could mean preventing a tooth from falling out (especially after an injury) or avoiding the necessity of an extraction. This is important as the loss of a tooth can result in the deterioration or loss of bone mass in the jaw. The jaw is designed to support the teeth and tooth loss can result in significant degradation of the bone over time.