Not many procedures get as bad of a rap in dentistry as a root canal. Every tooth has a pulp chamber that supplies the tooth with vital nutrients, sensory fibers, and a blood supply. In many instances, the nerve tissue becomes infected and can only be treated with pulpal therapy in order to treat it. An infected pulp can be symptomatic or asymptomatic, and in many cases will alternate between these two states. In an acute state, the infection will be highly tender and painful and may or may not coincide with a swelling and foul odor. Unless the diseased tissue is removed and the roots completely sterilized and filled to avoid further contamination, the infection can get worse and in a few cases even deadly. During the root canal, all decay is excavated from the tooth, and an access is made so that the pulp chamber can be accessed. Using multiple instruments and irrigants, the chamber is cleansed and and shaped and then restored with a material called gutta purcha. After the root canal therapy is completed, the tooth is restored with a crown for protection and restoring normal function.
During the procedure, a gap is drilled into the tooth’s crown and pulp chamber, diseased pulp is reshaped or removed, and the tooth is permanently sealed with a gold, porcelain, or tooth-colored inlay/onlay or crown.