Endodontic literally means “inside the tooth”. Endodontics is the discipline of dentistry that deals with treatment of the disease processes and conditions that occur to the living tissues inside your teeth. Yes, we’re talking about that big old bad buzzword – Root Canal!
Each tooth has one, two or three roots, and in rare cases more. Inside each of those roots are canals (little tube-like chambers) that hold the nerves, blood vessels, and fibers that we call the pulp. The purpose of the pulp was to develop your tooth when it was still growing in your jaw. Once the tooth is developed, the pulp waits inside your tooth with no real purpose anymore. Occasionally that pulp tissue will become damaged or diseased by decay, trauma, fracture, or some unknown reason. This can then cause your immune system to react, and “reject” the tooth. When this occurs, we are able to do Therapy on the Canal that is inside the Root – hence, Root Canal Therapy. We are able to numb your tooth, remove that diseased tissue, disinfect the canal, and seal it with a biocompatible material that your immune system will accept. This will allow you to keep your tooth for years more, if not for your whole life.
So why do we hear so many horror stories about Root Canal Therapy? The example we use is this: 100 people by a new car model. 96 people get a great car, but four get lemons. Who do you hear from? That’s right, the people who got lemons! This 96% rate is the approximate success rate associated with Root Canal Therapy. And of the four people who had a problem, three of them knew they needed the care, but put it off until the tooth hurt so bad, or became so badly infected, that the dentist has a harder time getting sufficient anesthesia to treat the tooth as comfortably as they could have weeks or months ago.
The truth is, endodontic therapy, or “a root canal”, is one of the more frequent, common, and successful treatments dentists do, and there are a lot of people walking around with all of their teeth who wouldn’t have those teeth without this form of treatment.
And, of course, in more difficult or extreme cases, we have access to wonderful and professional Endodontic Specialists who can help you keep that otherwise “done-for” tooth!