Lisa C Petrov, RDH, DDS

5505 Detroit Dr. Suite C
Sheffield Village, OH 44054
(440) 366-5530
Endodontic Therapy

What is an Endodontist and what do they do?

Endodontists are dentists who specialize in maintaining teeth through endodontic therapy -- procedures, involving the soft inner tissue of the teeth, called the pulp.  The word "endodontic" comes from "endo" meaning inside and "odont" meaning tooth.  Like many medical terms, it's Greek.  All dentists are trained in diagnosis and endodontic therapy, however, some teeth can be especially difficult to diagnose and treat.  That’s why you may have been referred to an endodontic specialist.

In addition to dental school, endodontists receive two or more years of advanced education in this kind of treatment. They study root canal techniques and procedures in greater depth, for diagnosis and treatment of more difficult cases. For this reason, many dentists choose to refer their patients to endodontists.

Anatomy 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 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

Root canal therapy is performed when a tooth's pulp tissue (nerve fibers, bood vessels, connective tissue) becomes inflamed or infected.  The inflammation or infection may be caused by dental decay, repeated dental procedures, or a crack or chip in the tooth.  In addition, a sharp blow to a tooth may cause pulpal damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks.  If inflamed or infected pulp tissue is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.

There are many signs associated with a tooth that needs root canal treatment: pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth, swelling or tenderness in the nearby gums; however, sometimes there may be no symptoms at all.  These cases are usually detected radiographically or clinically by your general dentist.

Endodontic treatment is often completed in one or two visits and involves the following steps:


Step One

The endodontist examines and x-rays the tooth, then administers local anesthetic.  After the tooth is numb, the endodontist places a small protective sheet called a "dental dam" over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure.

Step Two

The endodontist makes an opening in the crown of the tooth.  Very small instruments are used to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals, and to shape the space for filling. 

Step Three

After the space is cleaned and shaped, the endodontist fills the root canals with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called "gutta percha," or a resin-based material called "resilon."  The root canal filling is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals.  In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close the opening.

Step Four

After a final visit with your endodontist, you must return to your dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. 

If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold the restoration in place, your dentist will need to place a post in your tooth to retain the crown. 


Once endodontic therapy is completed your tooth should be examined periodically, usually every 6 - 12 months.  This allows us to make sure the tooth has healed or is healing properly.  You will be sent a notice in the mail when we feel it is appropriate to reevaluate the area.  Since an abscess may take 2 years to heal, our office will reevaluate the tooth for at least 2 years.



Copyright 1995-2013/American Association of Endodontists (AAE).  All rights reserved.


Lisa Petrov, R.D.H., D.D.S.
5505 Detroit Dr. Suite C
Sheffield Village, OH 44054
(440) 366-5

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