A root canal is a treatment used to repair
and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. During a
root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp is removed and the inside of
the tooth is cleaned and sealed.
The pulp or pulp chamber is the soft area within the center of the
tooth. The tooth's nerve lies within root canals, which lie within the
roots or "legs" of the tooth. The root canals travel from the tip of the
tooth's root into the pulp chamber, which also contains blood vessels
and connective tissue that nourish the tooth.
A tooth's nerve is not vitally important to a tooth's health and
function after the tooth has emerged through the gums. Its only function
is sensory – to provide the sensation of hot or cold. The presence or
absence of a nerve will not affect the day-to-day functioning of the
What Are the Signs that a Root Canal Is Needed?
Sometimes no symptoms are present; however, signs to look for include:
- Severe toothache pain upon chewing or application of pressure
- Prolonged sensitivity/pain to heat or cold temperatures (after the hot
or cold has been removed)
- Discoloration (a darkening) of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums
- A persistent or recurring pimple on the gums
Is root canal therapy for everyone?
Yes! Everyone who wants to save her or his teeth (having been diagnosed
as having a problem needing root canal therapy) can benefit and expect
to maintain the tooth in its healthiest state, once the root canal is
completed. There is no limitation for age or state of health.