Endodontists specialize in saving teeth by performing a range of procedures that involve the pulp or root of teeth. They can use a number of options including endodontic therapy, endodontic retreatment, or endodontic surgery.
When a cavity or other infection reaches the roots of a tooth, it can infect and subsequently kill the tooth. Often, the only way of saving a tooth from extractions is to have an endodontist perform one of the several types of endodontic procedure to save the root. One of the more common procedures done is endodontic therapy, more commonly known as root canal therapy. This procedure is used to clean out the infected parts of the pulp and root canal. The endodontist uses a small file to clean and shape the canal, which is then filled to prevent further infection.
Another treatment endodontists perform is called endodontic retreatment, which is used when a tooth becomes re-infected after a patient has had a root canal. Previously applied dental crown and filling materials are removed to regain access to the root canal, which is cleaned again in a similar manner to the first procedure.
Finally, endodontists can perform other types of endodontic surgery, such as an apicoectomy, which removes the tip of an infected root, or exploratory surgery, when a patient's source of tooth pain cannot be found through X-rays alone.