Root canal treatments are done to treat infections to an often badly decayed, abscessed tooth. It is done to repair and save the infected tooth from being pulled out.

A root canal procedure involves the removal of the infected pulp and nerve from inside of the tooth and thorough cleaning of the canals before the tooth is resealed.  The pulp is the soft area that lines the inside of a tooth, while the tooth nerve lies within the root canals, which line the legs or the roots of the tooth.

The root canals go from the tip of the tooth’s root and into the pulp chamber, which, along with the connective tissue, contains the blood vessels responsible for nourishing the tooth. A tooth’s nerve is no longer vital to the tooth’s health and function once the tooth has surfaced through the gums.

However, it retains its sensory function, which provides the hot and cold sensation. Presence or absence of the tooth’s nerve does not affect the vital function of the tooth, which is why removing an infected or damaged nerve tissue will benefit the tooth rather than cause any impairment to its function.

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A damaged pulp or nerve tissue is a welcome nest for bacteria build-up in the pulp chamber. Bacteria and other decayed debris that goes into the pulp chamber results into an infected or abscessed tooth.

An abscess occurs as the infection spreads past the ends of the tooth’s roots, and swelling may occur in different areas of the neck, face, or head. Additionally, tooth abscess can cause different problems such as bone loss around the root tips of the tooth, and drainage problems into the gums or through the cheek, which may cause drainage into the skin.

Damage to the tooth’s nerve may be caused by deep decay, a chip or crack in the tooth where bacteria can penetrate through, repeated dental procedures, and even trauma to the face. A root canal is needed to avoid complications caused by excessive tooth abscess.

Some symptoms to watch out for include severe toothache when chewing or upon application of pressure on a tooth, discoloration or darkening of the tooth, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold food, recurring pimple on the gums, as well as swelling and tenderness of the nearby gums.

An X-ray is needed in order to determine whether or not there are any signs of infection in the surrounding bone, as well as to see the shape of the root canals. In most cases, anesthesia is not necessary to do the procedure, since the nerve inside the tooth is dead.