When your tooth is infected or damaged, your dentist might mention that you need endodontic care or root canal therapy. While these terms are related, they don’t always mean the same thing. This article explores what endodontics and root canals are and how they relate.
What is Endodontics?
Endodontics is a branch of dentistry focused on preventing, diagnosing, and treating diseases and conditions related to the inner tissues of the tooth or dental pulp. The Greek term ‘Endodontics’ is derived from two words, ‘endo’ meaning inside and ‘odont’ meaning tooth. Thus, the term endodontic means inside of the tooth.
An endodontist is a dental specialist that specializes in endodontics. They diagnose and treat issues that involve the tooth’s interior, like tooth infections and traumas. Common endodontic treatments include root canal therapy, endodontic surgery, and root canal retreatments.
What is a Root Canal?
Root canal therapy is simply a common type of endodontic treatment. Root canal therapy treats infections in the pulp, where the tooth’s nerves, blood vessels, and convective tissues are located.
During a root canal, the endodontist or dentist drills through the affected tooth to access the pulp. They use special files to remove decayed or infected tissues. The root canals are then cleaned, disinfected, shaped, and sealed to prevent new infections. Afterward, the dental filling or/and a crown reinforces the tooth for added strength and protection.
A root canal treatment removes tooth infections and preserves the remaining healthy part of your tooth. It also helps eliminate discomfort, swelling, and other symptoms associated with tooth infections. If you don’t get a root canal, the infection or decay would likely continue to eat up the tooth’s structure, eventually leading to tooth loss.
Are they the same? Root Canal vs. Endodontics
The answer is no. While related, endodontics is a broader field of dental care and includes a variety of treatments, one of them being root canal therapy. A root canal is an endodontic treatment, but not all endodontic treatments are root canals.
While root canal treatment involves removing the infected or decayed pulp, endodontics can include more procedures like apicoectomy. This procedure involves removing inflamed gums and a root tip of an abscessed tooth. It’s often necessary when a previous root canal therapy is unsuccessful, or a tooth develops a problem after a root canal.
Signs you May Need Endodontics or Root Canals
Below are common signs that indicate the need for endodontic treatments like root canals.
Persistent tooth pain
Tooth pain that won’t settle is a common sign you might need an endodontic treatment. Persistent pain usually results from pulp infections, dental trauma, cavities, damaged restorations, and advanced gum disease. Visit our dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Sensitivity to heat and cold
Does your tooth hurt when drinking a hot coffee or ice cream? It could mean your tooth’s internal soft tissues are exposed, and you might need endodontic treatment.
An infected tooth can release harmful acids that irritate the gums, making them swollen or tender. Endodontics may be necessary to remove the infection.
Bad breath or taste
Pus from infected tooth tissues can cause an unpleasant smell or taste in the mouth. Endodontics may be necessary to remove the infection.
A painful pus-filled boil or pimple on the gums or near tooth roots may indicate the need for endodontic treatments.
Pulp infections, decay, or trauma can cause your tooth to look darker and discolored. Since other causes can cause this, visit our dentist at 91723 for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Tooth damage like chips, cracks, and breaks can expose the inner structures of your tooth, causing the need for endodontic treatments.
Severe damage to the tooth’s roots or supporting tissues like the gums and jawbone can cause teeth to loosen or fall out. Endodontic care may be necessary to save your tooth. Visit our dentist in Covina, CA, or search online for an endodontic near you.
Do you have an untreated tooth infection or trauma? Contact Jeffrey L. Cohen, DDS, for endodontic treatment today.