A root canal is needed when the nerve in the middle of the tooth becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection may be the result of deep decay, a fracture or crack that has spread to the pulp (nerve), leaking crowns or fillings, excessive tooth wear, or trauma on a tooth. If the inflammation or infection is left untreated, it may lead to spontaneous pain, bite discomfort, prolonged hypersensitivity to temperature, and/or a visible swelling filled with pus called an abscess.
The process of a root canal involves accessing the nerve (usually from the top of the tooth), removing the infected or inflamed pulp inside the tooth, cleaning and disinfecting the roots, and sealing up space with a rubber-like material called gutta percha.
Modern endodontic (inside the tooth) treatment has exploded with improvements over the last couple of decades. The treatment is very predictable and often feels very similar to having a routine filling. Usually the procedure can be completed in one or two appointments and most patients would say that it was a comfortable experience from beginning to end.
Treating a tooth with root canal treatment alleviates pain, swelling, and infection to save the tooth from needing to be extracted. This will in turn preserves chewing function, maintains your natural smile, protects other teeth from movement or excessive wear, and keeps a normal biting force and sensation in the area as you continue to eat the food that you love!