Endodontics is the dental specialty that deals with the dental pulp inside of a tooth. Within the dental pulp are the tooth nerves. When a tooth is compromised, the inside can be susceptible to decay. An endodontist treats the inside of the tooth in order to save the tooth structure.
Diagnosis is completed during the first visit after a thorough examination of the tooth and surrounding tissues that are experiencing pain or discomfort. Diagnosis of an endodontic problem involves testing the tooth for sensitivity to cold and hot, tapping on the tooth, and taking appropriate radiographs. Some tooth pain is not severe enough to require a root canal, in which case you may be asked to return for another evaluation or be referred back to your general dentist with a recommendation for treatment. Occasionally, a patient may have diffuse pain in an area that is not attributed to a tooth (non-odontogenic). In these cases, symptoms may be coming from a nearby structure such as the sinus, muscles of mastication, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Your endodontist is able to differentiate between pain from a tooth (odontogenic) versus non-odotogenic pain, and will make the appropriate referral to a pain management specialist if needed.