Root canal treatment is also referred to as endodontic treatment and by some root canal therapy.
“Endo” is the Greek word for “inside” and “odont” is Greek for “tooth.”
Root canal treatment (Endodontic treatment) treats the inside of the tooth. To understand root canal 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 tissues. 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.
Root canal or endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, leaking fillings or crowns, or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, trauma to the tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess or eventual tooth loss. It will not get better if it is left alone. Signs of pulp damage include pain, prolonged and lingering sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums. Sometimes, there are no symptoms. Root canal or endodontic treatment will eliminate these symptoms, if present, eradicate the infection and save your tooth.