A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form.
“Root canal” is the term used to describe the natural cavity within the center of the tooth. The pulp or pulp chamber is the soft area within the root canal. The tooth’s nerve lies within the root canal.
A tooth’s nerve is not vitally important to a tooth’s health and function after the tooth has emerged through the gums. Its only function is sensory — to provide the sensation of hot or cold. The presence or absence of a nerve will not affect the day-to-day functioning of the tooth.
Endodontic therapy, or root canal treatment, is necessary if decay reaches the pulp or nerve, or due to trauma or deep restorations causes nerve damage. If the pulp is infected, you may have sensitivity to hot or cold or sweets, a bad taste in the mouth, or pain to pressure or biting, or in the severe cases swelling and extreme pain. Until a checkup, in some cases, the pulp could be infected but you may have no obvious symptoms and you may not know you have a problem.
The tooth pulp is eliminated and the canal or canals are disinfected to treat the infected pulp. The canal or canals are filled in to prevent any further infection when the infection is resolved. A crown and a core build-up is usually recommended for restoring a tooth that has undergone root canal therapy.
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