An elite team of dental specialists in Brookline MA

Endodontic Treatment Fact Sheet

Root Canal Treatment

Endodontic — or root canal — treatment is necessary when the pulp, RootCanalTreatment
the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected.
The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.

Signs to look for include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling, drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes as well as nearby bone and gingival tissues. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms.

Endodontists specialize in saving natural teeth and in performing
root canals.

Abscessed Tooth

As shown in the diagram to the right, a tooth abscess is a collection
of infected material or pus. An abscess can occur when the pulp, the
AbscessedToothsoft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected and goes untreated.

Endodontists specialize in treating the insides of teeth.
Therefore an abscess is the type of condition where endodontic treatment can be helpful.

How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?

The endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the canal, a channel inside the root, then fills and seals the space. Afterwards, you will return to your dentist, who will place a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect
and restore it to full function. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.


An apicoectomy is a procedure in which the endodontist opens the gum tissue near the tooth to see the underlying bone and to remove any inflamed or infected tissue. The very end of the root is also removed.

Endodontists specialize in performing apicoectomies.

Copyright © 1995-2011 American Association of Endodontists (AAE), All Rights Reserved