A root canal is the natural space inside the tooth. This space is taken up by the pulp, containing nerves, nutrient vessels and connective tissue. If bacteria enter and multiply in this chamber, they will easily spread up to the tip of the roots forming pockets and abscesses in the surrounding bone. Such infections may be caused by decay, repeated dental procedures, faulty crowns, a cracked tooth or even trauma. If not treated, they would cause severe pain and swelling which disrupt daily routines or may even wake a patient up at night.
Root canal treatment, also called endodontic treatment, is the treatment of an infected pulp of the tooth. The entire root canal system of an affected tooth needs to be cleaned to ease the inflammation and disinfected to remove the bacteria and pressure which cause the pain and discomfort. Once the root canal system is properly cleansed, it is dried and filled with a sealant down to the tip of the root.
This treatment will save the natural tooth from further damage and ultimately tooth loss. In some cases the dentist recommends to have the root canal treated tooth covered by a full crown to restore severely damaged tooth surfaces.
With proper care and attention, a root canal-filled tooth may remain healthy for many years to come.