Root canal therapy (or endodontics) involves removing infected pulp from the innermost part of the tooth. This prevents the infection from spreading and can help save a tooth that may otherwise have to be extracted.
The pulp is made up of soft tissue, including nerves and blood vessels, and extends from the crown to the tips of the root. The pulp can become infected due to decay, a deep filling or trauma to the tooth. Symptoms can include pain, increased sensitivity to temperature, discolouration, a metallic taste, gum tenderness or swelling.
Root canal therapy usually requires several appointments, the number will depend on which type of tooth is being treated. Between appointments, the tooth will be covered and temporarily restored.
Although root canal therapy has a reputation for being painful, the procedure should be no more uncomfortable than having a normal filling.
If looked after properly, with regular brushing and flossing, your root canal treated tooth should stay trouble-free and provide a long-lasting repair. Even though the pulp has been removed, the tooth will stay intact because the canals have been sealed to prevent re-infection. Regular check-ups are also recommended so any problems can be detected early.