Endodontics Glossary


What is Endodontics?

Endodontics: The branch of dentistry concerned with the morphology, physiology and pathology of the human dental pulp and periradicular tissues. Its study and practice encompass the basic and clinical sciences including the biology of the normal pulp and the etiology, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries of the pulp and associated periradicular conditions.

The scope of endodontics includes, but is not limited to, the differential diagnosis and treatment of oral pains of pulpal and/or periapical origin; vital pulp therapy such as pulp capping and pulpotomy; nonsurgical treatment of root canal systems with or without periradicular pathosis of pulpal origin, and the obturation of these root canal systems; selective surgical removal of pathological tissues resulting from pulpal pathosis; intentional replantation and replantation of avulsed teeth; surgical removal of tooth structure such as in root-end resection, bicuspidization, hemisection and root resection; root-end filling endodontic treatment implants; bleaching of discolored dentin and enamel (teeth); retreatment of teeth previously treated endodontically; and endodontic treatment procedures related to coronal restorations by means of post and/or cores involving the root canal space.

Endodontist: A dentist with two or more years of advanced training in the scope of endodontics who has received a certificate in endodontics from an advanced education program accredited by the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation and who limits his or her practice to endodontics. (Dentists who limited their practice to endodontics prior to recognition of the specialty in 1963 are also recognised as endodontists.) The endodontic specialist is responsible for the advancement of endodontic knowledge through research, the transmission of information concerning the most recent advances in biologically acceptable procedures and materials, and the education of the public as to the importance of endodontics in keeping the dentition in a physiologically functional state for the maintenance of oral and systemic health.

Tooth Composition

Apical dental foramen: The main apical opening of the root canal. A natural opening or passage, especially into or through a bone; also describes openings in the root structure that communicate with the dental pulp and generally contain neural, vascular and connective elements.

Cementum: A mineralized tissue covering the roots of teeth that provides a medium for the attachment of the periodontal fibers that connect the tooth to the alveolar bone and gingival tissues; composed of approximately 45–50% inorganic substances and 50–55% organic material and water; softer than dentin; histologically differentiated as cellular and acellular.

Crown: The part of a tooth that is covered with enamel or an artificial substitute for that part.

Dental pulp: A richly vascularized and innervated specialized connective tissue of ectomesenchymal origin; contained in the central space of a tooth, surrounded by the dentin, with inductive, formative, nutritive, sensory and protective functions.

Dentin: A mineralized tissue that forms the bulk of the crown and root of the tooth, giving the root its characteristic form; surrounds coronal and radicular pulp, forming the walls of the pulp chamber and root canals; composed of approximately 67% inorganic, 20% organic and 13% water.

Enamel: A mineralized tissue that forms a protective covering of variable thickness over the entire surface of the crown of the tooth. The hardest tissue in the human body, enamel provides a resistant covering suitable for mastication. Its composition is approximately 96% inorganic and 4% organic substance and water.

Gingiva: The dense fibrous tissue and overlying mucous membrane, which envelop the alveolar processes of the upper and lower jaws and surrounds the necks of the teeth.

Neck: The slightly constricted part of a tooth between the crown and the root.

Root: The part of the tooth below the neck covered by cementum rather than enamel and attached by the periodontal ligament to the alveolar bone.