An endodontist steps in when damage has been done to the delicate root and pulp of a tooth, either from disease or injury. These specialists treat the inside of a tooth—the pulp that contains the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue.
Endodontics concentrates mainly on root canals, a procedure that removes the infected pulp of a tooth, fills it, and then seals it to prevent further infection. 95% of these procedures are performed with success.
Endodontic procedures also include treatment for cracked teeth, creating incisions to drain an infected tooth, and periradicular surgery—the removal of the root tip and surrounding infected tissue of an abscessed tooth. Basic training for these techniques is covered in dental school, but the more complicated cases require the attention of a dentist who has chosen to specialize in this area and has earned board certification.
Board-certified endodontists have not only fulfilled their general dental school requirements, but also put in an additional two to three years of training in the specialty. They must pass three additional exams—written, case history, and oral—to earn certification.