An endodontist is a “root canal” specialist defined from the American Board of Endodontists as a dental specialist in the treatment of diseases and injuries to the dental pulp, root and surrounding tissues of the teeth. Endodontists receive two or more years of advanced education after dental school.
Although all general dentists are trained to perform root canals, some teeth can be especially difficult to diagnose and treat. Endodontists are trained to handle the routine to the most complex root canal cases.
The root canal is the space inside the tooth. The space extends from the level of the crown (pulp chamber) to the tip of the roots. The pulp tissue which occupies this space is made up of blood vessels , nerves and connective tissue. The pulp tissues are responsible for the development of the tooth. Once a tooth is fully mature, it can survive without the pulp because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.
The pulp or “nerve” tissues can become damaged, inflamed or infected, often times from a cavity or injury. If the pulp tissues die then this space becomes infected which may lead to tooth loss. The main reason to do root canal therapy is to save the tooth. The endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp tissues and cleans and shapes the inside of the root canal. The root canal then is filled with a material called gutta percha and this seals the space.