Endodontics is a sub-field of dentistry that deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of irregularities and diseases in the endodontium area (the Latin name for the tooth pulp, dentine and the tissues surrounding the root of a tooth).
Endodontic treatment is generally known as root canal treatment. Although the name of this treatment is commonly used, and well known, in reality it requires the dentist to have a high level of expertise and experience. Depending on the type and stage of the tooth pulp disease, the dentist will either opt for endodontic treatment, or in select cases dental surgery.
Tooth pulp is a jelly like connective tissue which fills a tooth cavity in such a way that it retains its anatomical shape. Dentine constitutes the main part of a tooth and is built from a mineralised connective tissue. Tooth pulp is very vascular containing many nerves, and as a result is extremely sensitive to any external influences and pathogens. The state of the dentine largely depends on the healthiness of the tooth pulp. Tooth pulp provides a protective barrier, protecting the tooth from pathogens. For this reason it is important to keep it alive and when not possible, it should be suitably secured. Dead tooth pulp cannot protect a tooth and without it, just like through damaged skin, pathogens can invade the inside of a tooth, attack tissues surrounding the root and can even pose a threat to the entire body.