Advancements in dental treatment, and in dental training, have made it possible for specialized dentists, called endodontists, to treat inflammation and infection deep within the core of a tooth. Endodontists, like the doctor, receive two additional years of specialized training beyond dental school, where they learn the sophisticated techniques needed to treat problems related to the inside of the tooth. Historically, the only solution for problems within the tooth was to extract the tooth. Today, people who eat a healthier diet have better oral health. They also take better care of their teeth and have regular dental checkups and twice yearly cleanings, all of which contribute to better oral health. Sometimes, however, unforeseen problems arise, and a tooth gets injured, or somehow becomes infected or inflamed. This leads to the need for endodontic treatment.
Understanding Tooth Anatomy
Understanding basic tooth anatomy will put things in proper perspective. The tooth is composed of several parts. The outer layer consists of the enamel and the hard layer called dentin. These layers protect the inside of the tooth, which has a canal that extends from the very top (crown) of the tooth all the way down to the roots. Surrounding that canal is soft tissue known as the pulp. The pulp contains the "guts" of the tooth — or the living parts. Those living parts include blood vessels, connective tissues, and nerves.
Importance of Tooth Pulp
The pulp is most important when your teeth are developing. It connects the area from the top of the tooth to the roots, and then to the supporting tissues around the roots (or gums). Once teeth are fully mature, they can still survive without the pulp because as long as the surrounding tissue is healthy, it continues to nourish the tooth.
Can all teeth be treated endodontically?
Most infections benefit from endodontic treatment. The only reason that a tooth can't be treated endodontically is when the tooth itself isn't salvageable. That might include the inability to access the root canal, a severe fracture of the tooth root, inadequate bone support, or a damaged tooth that can't be restored. Endodontic surgery might be a viable alternative treatment.
Although endodontic treatment is sometimes inevitable and unavoidable, good oral hygiene keeps the teeth, mouth and entire oral cavity in good health. If you experience pain, prolonged sensitivity, swelling, gum sensitivity, swollen lymph nodes, or fever, give our Lexington, Massachusetts office a call or consult your general dentist. You may then be referred to the doctor for specialized treatment at Lexington Endodontics.