A normal healthy tooth has an interior portion that is filled with nerves and blood vessels that branch off from beneath the top of the tooth, coursing their way vertically downward, until they reach the tip of the root. All teeth have between one and four root canals.
Many tooth problems involve problems with these nerves and blood vessels. Tooth decay can spread bacteria to the nerves and blood vessels in the root canal spaces. A traumatic injury to a tooth can also compromise the tooth. A diseased inner tooth brings a host of problems including pain and sensitivity as the first indications of a problem. Left untreated, an infection inside the tooth can cause small pockets of pus to develop, which can lead to an abscess.
Root canal therapy is a remarkable treatment designed to save a problem tooth. Root canal therapy removes the diseased tissue, halting the spread of infection and restoring the healthy portion of the tooth. Before this procedure was developed and gained acceptance, the only alternative for treating a diseased tooth was extraction.
When root canal therapy is performed, a small hole is made through the top of the tooth and into the inner chamber. Diseased tissue is removed, the inner chamber is cleansed and disinfected, and the tiny canals are reshaped. The clean chamber and canals are filled with a material designed to prevent infection. The drilled hole can be temporarily filled until a permanent seal is made with a crown or filling. Many patients experience little or no discomfort or pain and enjoy a restored tooth that can last almost as long as its healthy original.