Q. What is endodontics?
A. Endodontics is the area of dentistry that specifically deals with what is called the pulp within a tooth.
Q. What is dental pulp?
A. The dental pulp is a soft tissue comprised of tiny arteries, veins, nerves and lymph vessels for the tooth.
Q. Where does the term root canal come from?
A. The tooth is comprised of three basic components. The first component is the crown/enamel, which is seen by the naked eye.
The next level of the tooth is dentin, which is under the enamel and the "housing” for the dental pulp. The final component is the dental pulp and is the core of the tooth. This bulk of the dental pulp is in the center of the tooth or the pulp chamber, and is connected to the Mandibular Canal through the root canals. The root canals are like veins for the dental pulp.
Q. What does the procedure root canal mean?
A. Root canal has become a term for a procedure involving the dental pulp. When the dental pulp has been exposed and damaged, it must be treated professionally and this process is usually referred to as getting a root canal.
Q. What does a root canal procedure entail?
A. Once the dental pulp has been infected, it must be removed from both the pulp chamber and the root canals. Once it has been removed, the pulp chamber and root canals are thoroughly cleaned and enlarged. Based on the level of infection, the dentists may choose to clean the area more than once. After the area is free of infection, the dentist will fill the root canals and pulp chamber with a filling that will prevent any bacteria from entering the area. Finally, the dentist will place a crown over the tooth to restore it to its original shape.
Q. What causes dental pulp to become damaged or infected?
A. Normally, when a deep cavity occurs, it exposes the dental pulp to the bacteria inside the mouth. When exposed to this bacteria, the dental pulp can become infected and thus cause the inside of the tooth to be infected.
Q. What can happen if infected dental pulp is not treated?
A. Overtime, the infected pulp will die. At the same time, pus from the infection will develop at the base of the tooth and cause an abscess to form. If this occurs, it is not uncommon for the abscess to cause the bone holding the tooth to deteriorate. If this deterioration becomes too severe, the tooth will fall out.
Q. What role does the computer play in the dental care industry?
A. In the future, patient records may be kept on computer disks, including visual images captured on intraoral cameras. A computerized workstation beside the patient’s chair will give the dentist the ability to view the patient’s history from disk.
Also, the dentist might use a voice-recognition system to ask the computer to assist in finding that data, or create a “before and after” image so the patient can preview the result of dental work before it is done.