Root Canal Therapy is a dental procedure by which an infected or severely inflamed tooth is treated to remove the infection and relieve the associated pain. Despite a bad reputation, root canal treatment is usually quite painless and is often the best way to relieve severe dental pain and infection.
A Root Canal is needed when the decay goes deep enough into the structure of the tooth to cause inflammation or infection in the pulp of the tooth. The pulp of a tooth consists of the blood vessels and nerves needed to provide nourishment and blood flow to the tooth. If the infection is left untreated it can cause severe pain or even an abscess in the gums underneath the root of the tooth. This infection, if left untreated, can then spread to other important areas of the head and neck region.
Root Canal Therapy consists of two major steps. First the infected or inflamed pulp is removed from the tooth and the tooth is treated with antimicrobial medication to remove any remaining bacteria. This step results in the relief of pain related to the infection/inflammation. Once the pulp is extracted a space remains that would be vulnerable to a new bacterial infection if left untreated. The second step of a root canal procedure consists of filling and sealing that space to prevent any recurrence of infection. A material called Gutta Percha, which has antibacterial properties, is used to fill the root canal space. Once this has been filled the root canal treatment is complete and the tooth is usually restored with a crown or filling to prevent any fractures or decay.