What is a root canal?

Anatomically speaking, the root canal is the space inside the root of the tooth, which is filled with pulp and nerve tissues. Root canal therapy, or endodontic therapy, is a procedure in which the pulp chamber is disinfected, shaped, and filled with a bio-compatible filling material.

When is a root canal used?

When the tooth is decayed or fractured to the point that the dental pulp inside the tooth is infected or at high risk for infection, root canal therapy is used to save the tooth. If the infection is left unchecked, it can create an abscess below the root, which is highly uncomfortable and can actually damage the bone structure of the jaw. A deep cavity or fracture that exposes the nerve is important to fix in a timely manner, before an abscess can form.

Some symptoms of infection may include:

  • sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • tenderness while biting or chewing
  • severe toothache or a dull ache in a tooth
  • formation of a fistula (which is a boil-like infection on the gum’s surface)