When a nerve becomes infected or dies inside the tooth, root canal therapy is needed to preserve the tooth and its surrounding bone.
When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the nerve. Germs can cause an infection inside the tooth. Left without treatment, this infection builds up at the tip of the root in the jawbone, forming a "pus-pocket" called an abscess. When the infected nerve is not removed, pain and swelling can result. Certain by-products of the infection can injure your jawbones and your overall health. Without treatment, your tooth will eventually have to be removed.
Root canal therapy often involves only one visit. During treatment, the infected nerve is removed from inside the tooth. Next the pulp chamber and root canal(s) of the tooth are cleaned and sealed. Most of the original tooth structure remains. Posterior teeth that have root canal treatment need a crown placed in order to strengthen the remaining tooth structure. After root canal therapy, the root(s) of the restored tooth are nourished by the surrounding tissues. As long as you to continue to care for your teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing, and checkups, your restored tooth can last a lifetime.
Most of the time a root canal is a relatively simple procedure with little or no discomfort. Proper use of prescribed medications should manage any post-operative discomfort. Best of all, it can save your tooth and your smile!