Endodontics, a dental specialty recognized by the American Dental Association, concentrates on treatment of the pulp (root canal) and surrounding tissue of the tooth. In addition to dental training, an endodontist receives two years of postgraduate training in performing root canal therapy and other procedures involving the pulp – the soft inner tissue of the tooth.

A tooth consists of two main parts: the crown, which is visible in your mouth; and the root, which is anchored by surrounding bone and gum tissue. Inside each root are one or more channels called "root canals" that run the length of the root. Contained within the canal(s) are blood vessels, nerves, and soft tissue that are collectively called the pulp (often referred to as the "nerve").

The pulp can be irreversibly injured or infected after episodes of decay, fracture, trauma, or periodontal (gum) disease. The tooth then may become sensitive to hot or cold, or it could become tender. Sometimes the patient may experience spontaneous or radiating pain, and swelling. When this occurs, it is necessary to remove the diseased pulp tissue. This procedure is known as endodontic therapy. Since only the pulp is removed from the root canal, the root continues to function normally because its supporting tissues remain intact. It is important to remove the injured pulp because it may become infected and spread disease to the tissues surrounding the tooth.

 
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