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“Endo” is the Greek word for “inside” and “odont” is Greek for “tooth.” Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth.


To understand endodontic treatment, it helps to know something about the anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue and creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during development.

The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots where it connects to the tissues surrounding the root. The pulp is important during a tooth’s growth and development. However, once a tooth is fully mature it can survive without the pulp, because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.

Endodontic Treatment, or Root Canal Therapy, is needed when an injury, crack, or a large cavity hurt the dental pulp causing it to become infected or inflammed.  The endodontist numbs the tooth, and a small opening is made through the top of the tooth to the pulp chamber.  Special instruments and irrigation are used to clean the infection and unhealthy pulp out of the canals. The canals are then shaped to receive the root canal filling material.  Typically this is done with a material known as gutta-percha. This helps to keep the canals free of infection or contamination.  A temporary filling material is then placed on top of the gutta-percha to seal the opening at the top of the tooth. This temporary filling remains until the tooth receives a permanent filling or a crown from your general dentist.  A crown, sometimes called a cap, helps strengthen your tooth and looks like a natural tooth.


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