A root canal or endodontic therapy is needed to treat the tissue inside the tooth. This tissue is called the pulp, often referred to as the nerve. The pulp can become irreversibly damaged due to infection or trauma. The infection of the pulp typically results from deep decay, which is caused by bacteria. Left untreated the pulp will eventually die. This is called a necrotic pulp. This infection and necrotic tissue can work its way into the jawbone forming an abscess, a serious and sometimes painful infection.
A root canal can take from one to two or more appointments, depending on the individual tooth and the amount of infection present. The tooth is always numbed first so you are comfortable during the procedure. A device called a rubber dam is placed on the tooth to isolate it and to keep the inside of the tooth from saliva contamination. A small access is made to the pulp using the dental hand piece. The infected and/or dead pulpal tissue is delicately removed. Then the inside of the tooth is gently shaped, disinfected, and filled with an inert material.