Root Canal Therapy is treatment for a “dead” or dying pulp within a tooth. The pulp includes the nerves and blood vessels that keep the tooth alive and are found deep within the tooth. The causes of pulp death are numerous. The most common reason a tooth dies is a cavity forming a deep hole that allows the bacteria found in the mouth to infect the pulp. Other causes for pulp death include tooth fracture or cracks and night time tooth grinding. Once the pulp becomes infected, the bacteria take over the pulp chamber and canals. By-products of the bacteria can cause a swelling at the end of the root, forming a "gumboil" or abcess.
A root canal involves creating an access hole in the top of the tooth so that specially designed instruments can be inserted into the tooth’s canals to clean out infection and prepare the tooth for a sterile filling material. As many as five canals can be present in a single tooth. Most root canal therapy can be completed in a single visit.
Since many teeth that require root canal therapy are severely broken down and not strong enough to endure normal function, crowns are often necessary to reinforce the teeth.