Root canal therapy (also referred to as root canal treatment or endodontic therapy) is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that would otherwise be lost as a result of infection or decay that has reached the tooth’s nerve. Occasionally, a tooth with no decay visible but has a history of trauma can end up requiring a root canal. Preserving the tooth is ideal because it eliminates the problems that a gap in the dental structure creates for the surrounding teeth—problems that quickly become more and more costly and inconvenient over the course of time.
In this procedure, the pulp of the tooth (the living tissue inside) is removed and the resulting space is filled with a material to restore the tooth to full function. Root canal therapy is highly successful and thanks to modern advancements in dental medicine, the procedure is far more comfortable than it has been in the past.
There are a number of signs that suggest root canal therapy may be necessary:
An abscess (or “pimple”) on the gums
Bad taste in the mouth
Sensitivity to hot, cold and sweets
Severe toothache pain
Swelling or tenderness
Sometimes, however, no symptoms are apparent and the person is unaware of any problems until a checkup. Regular cleanings and checkups prevent and detect problems early.