Endodontics, from the Greek endo (inside) and odons (tooth), is a one of the nine specialties of dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association, and deals with the tooth pulp and the tissues surrounding the root of a tooth. If the pulp (containing nerves, arterioles and venules as well as lymphatic tissue and fibrous tissue) has become diseased or injured, endodontic treatment is required to save the tooth.
Endodontists are dentists who have specialized in this field; qualification as an endodontist typically requires an additional 2-3 years of training following dental school. Many endodontic residents do original research and earn a Master's degree as well as a speciality certificate. They specialize and limit their practice to root canal therapy and root canal surgery, and use their special training and experience in treating difficult cases, such as teeth with narrow or blocked canals, or unusual anatomy. Endodontists may use advanced technology, such as operating microscopes, ultrasonics and digital imaging to perform these special services. Patients requiring root canal therapy are either referred by their general dentists to the endodontist or are self referred. Root canal therapy is also a standard procedure performed by general dentists.
The most common procedure performed in endodontics is root canal therapy. Other procedures practiced in endodontics include incision for drainage, internal tooth bleaching to fix teeth that have blackened because of infiltration of decayed soft tissue into the dentin in the teeth - most often seen in incisors that have been injured through a sudden impact, and periradicular surgery (apicoectomy); the more radical treatments generally are needed in cases of abscesses, root fractures, and problematic tooth anatomy, but may be indicated in treating teeth that have persistent root end pathosis following root canal treatment.