Within each tooth is a soft area known as the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. In some cases, the pulp can become infected and die. A root canal removes the dead pulp in order to:
Eliminate disease or decay – The infection from a diseased or dead pulp can cause mild to severe pain, health problems, and jaw infections.
Prevent future infections – If the pulp is not completely removed, the infection can remain and spread.
Save a tooth – In the past, if you had a tooth with a diseased pulp, it was usually extracted. Now, root canals can help you keep that tooth. Even teeth with significant damage from disease or accident can be saved with root canals, and the results can last for the rest of your life.
The Root Canal Treatment
Root canals, also called endodontic therapy, are fairly common procedures, and the experience is similar to that of having a tooth filled.
During a root canal, your dentist first removes all of a tooth’s diseased pulp, and then cleans the area. This is typically the most time-consuming part of the procedure, as your dentist needs to clean out every bit of material to make sure that no trace of infection or bacteria remains.
The space where the pulp used to be is filled with a non-reactive and biocompatible material called gutta-percha. The tooth is then topped with a temporary filling. After a few weeks, your dentist removes the filling, checking again for any bacteria, and will then place a permanent crown.