A root canal is a treatment to repair and save a tooth when the dental pulp becomes infected or gets damaged.
Why is a root canal needed?
When a tooth becomes inflamed due to some traumatic event (i.e. a cracked/broken tooth or caries) an infection develops in the pulp causing swelling and discomfort and the tooth can become abscessed. An infected or abscessed tooth can lead to tooth loss and serious health problems if left untreated as the infection can spread beyond the tooth.
What is the pulp?
The pulp is the soft area at the centre of the tooth’s root canal system that contains nerve tissue and blood vessels that nourish the tooth. The pulp (or nerve) is not vitally important to the tooth’s functionality. A tooth with a root canal has a high likelihood of long term function. However, the degree of tooth or bone loss that made the root canal necessary can decrease the length of time the tooth will be functional.
What to expect at your appointment:
A root canal is usually performed in one to three appointments depending on the severity of the infection and the shape of the canals. The first goal is to remove the infected tissue from the inside of the tooth. Once the infected pulp has been successfully removed, the canal is cleaned, dried, filled with sterile material and then sealed. The opening created in the tooth to access the canal is then filled with either a temporary or a permanent filling.