Teeth are not all pearly white. Inside each tooth lies a slender strand of “pulp,” which contains nerves and provides nutrients to the tooth. This pulp reaches all the way down to the tooth’s root. When decay has reached the tooth pulp, when a tooth’s pulp becomes infected, or when injury or trauma stroke the tooth, a root canal therapy (an endodontic treatment) is urgently needed otherwise the tooth itself may be at risk of dying.
After administering anaesthesia, the dentist drills through the top of the tooth and removes the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay. The resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function. The tooth is then sealed. In addition, ideally, all teeth that have root canal treatment should have a crown placed. This will protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking, and restore it to its full function.
Having a root canal done on a tooth is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would die and have to be removed. Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the solution, but what is not realized is that extracting (pulling) a tooth will ultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth.
Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections.