Root canal treatment, Endodontics, is the area of dentistry concerned with treatment of the dental pulp (the tooth’s soft core). Years ago, teeth with diseased or injured pulps were extracted. Today, endodontic treatment gives us a safe and effective means of saving teeth.
The pulp is the tissue that contains the nerves, arteries, veins and lymph vessels of a tooth. It lies within the dentin where the pulp extends from the pulp chamber in the crown (the portion of the tooth visible above the gums) down to the tip of the root by way of the root canal. All teeth have only one pulp chamber, but teeth with more than one root will have more than one canal.
When the pulp is diseased or injured and unable to repair itself, the pulp dies. The most common cause of pulp death is a tooth fracture or a deep cavity that exposes the pulp to saliva. The bacteria found in saliva cause infection inside the tooth. Left untreated, the infection eventually causes the pulp to die. Pus can build up at the root tip, forming an abscess that can destroy the supporting bone that surrounds the tooth.