The aim of root canal therapy (also known as endodontic treatment) is to save or repair a deeply infected or severely decayed tooth. It is performed by removing the pulp and nerve of the tooth and cleaning and sealing the inner portion of the tooth.
The pulp is the innermost portion of the tooth that houses nerves and connective tissues which nourish the tooth during developmental stages. Sometimes, issues such as cracks or fractures, deep dental work, or trauma, may expose the pulp to bacteria, causing an infection. In such cases, root canal therapy can help save the tooth and prevent the infection from spreading. Some of the symptoms of a root canal infection are listed below:
- Pain when eating or drinking hot or cold foods and drinks, and while biting or chewing.
- Swelling and tenderness in the gum and face near the infected tooth.
- Pus discharge from around the infected tooth.
- Discoloration of the tooth.
- A recurring pimple (abscess) on the gums.
The first step in a root canal treatment includes the administration of local anesthesia to numb the tooth and the surrounding tissues. During the treatment, a hole is made through the biting surface or from behind the tooth to access the pulp. Then, the infected pulp is removed. As soon as the inside of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected, it will be filled and sealed. The tooth may be covered with a dental crown for protection.