What is a tooth pulp?

Tooth “pulp” is what dental providers call the nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues deep inside each tooth. (When you look in the mirror, the part of your teeth that you see is an outer layer called enamel.)

The pulp, or connective tissue inside teeth, plays an important role in helping children’s teeth develop as they grow.

Tooth decay (due to poor teeth and gum care) or a cracked tooth can lead to pulpitis (an inflamed or infected tooth pulp).

Pulpitis often causes painful toothache (tooth pain). It can sometimes lead to a serious health problem that requires urgent medical attention.

How does an endodontist compare to a dentist?

All endodontists are dentists. But less than 3% of dentists have done the extra training to become endodontists.

After dental school, an endodontist completes at least two more years of focused dental training. During this time, endodontists focus on techniques to diagnose and treat tooth pain that affects tissues inside (pulp) or around (roots) your teeth.

How is a root canal performed?

Endodontists use an operating microscope and sophisticated tools to repair tissues inside a tooth. During root canal surgery, you lie on your back in a comfortable chair. You receive local anesthesia to numb the inside of your mouth for your comfort.

During root canal treatment, your endodontist:

  1. Places a dental dam (tiny tarp) over your tooth to isolate the affected area and protect your mouth, such as from infection.
  2. Accesses the pulp tissue from the top or behind your affected tooth.
  3. Removes damaged or diseased pulp tissue.
  4. Cleans and disinfects the area inside a tooth.
  5. Fills and seals the tooth.