Root canal therapy is a specialized treatment used to save teeth that are damaged or diseased due to a deep cavity or traumatic injury to the dental pulp; the pulp is the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue of the tooth. If the infected pulp is left untreated, an abscess may form at the end of the root, which can cause severe pain and swelling. Even if no pain is present, certain substances released by bacteria in the diseased pulp can damage the bone surrounding the tooth and lead to possible tooth loss.
The procedure involves removal of diseased pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals of the tooth. Once the pulp is removed, the canals are cleaned, disinfected and sealed.
After a root canal procedure is completed, a crown is generally required to protect the tooth from fracturing.
Treatment usually requires one visit and takes anywhere from 30 to 70 minutes to complete under local anesthesia.