Endodontics is the area of dentistry that focuses on maintaining the health of the tooth interior and tooth root, as well as the soft tissue surrounding the root and root tip. Root canal therapy is the most common type of endodontic procedure, removing the central pulp portion of the tooth when it becomes damaged by decay or trauma. Apicoectomy and dental implants are also common endodontic procedures. Dentists trained in endodontics are skilled in performing an array of procedures aimed at avoiding tooth loss.
Root canals are similar to “regular” filling procedures, but they are designed to reach the deeper interior portion of the tooth, or pulp. Root canals use special tools and methods to remove the pulp after it’s damaged or decayed, sealing and filling the canal to prevent decay. Usually, the treated tooth is covered with a crown to provide strength and hide any resulting discoloration that can occur.
Generally speaking, it’s better to keep natural teeth than to have them pulled and replaced. Preserving a tooth via a root canal is usually less costly than having an extraction followed by a restoration, and it also maintains natural bite mechanics, helping to avoid jaw strain or excessive wear issues that can increase the risk of additional decay and tooth loss. If a tooth has become severely infected or extensively damaged, a root canal may be impossible, and extraction may be necessary.
An apicoectomy is a procedure designed to treat damage and infection at the end of the tooth root, also called the “apex.” During an apicoectomy, a tiny incision is made in the gum so the damaged tissue can be removed, sometimes along with the tip of the root. The tip is sealed, and the incision is closed.
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