A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. Endodontic treatment, more commonly known as root canal therapy, is necessary when the pulp of your tooth becomes inflamed or infected.
Root canal procedures are performed when the nerve of the tooth becomes infected or the pulp becomes damaged. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed.
Root canal procedures have the reputation of being painful. Actually, most people report that the procedure itself is no more painful than having a filling placed.
The discomfort experienced in the period leading up to a seeking of dental care is truly the painful period of time, not the root canal procedure itself.
Why Does the Pulp Need to Be Removed?
When nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, it breaks down and bacteria begin to multiply within the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other decayed debris can cause an infection or abscessed tooth. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the roots of the tooth. An abscess occurs when the infection spreads all the way past the ends of the roots of the tooth. In addition to an abscess, an infection in the root canal of a tooth can cause:
Swelling that may spread to other areas of the face, neck, or head
Bone loss around the tip of the root
Drainage problems extending outward from the root. A hole can occur through the side of the tooth with drainage into the gums or through the cheek with drainage into the skin.
What Damages a Tooth's Nerve and Pulp in the First Place?
A tooth's nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed, and infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a tooth and/or large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face.
Signs & Symptoms
Severe toothache pain upon chewing or application of pressure
Prolonged sensitivity/pain to heat or cold temperatures (after the hot or cold has been removed)