A root canal procedure is performed when the nerve of the tooth becomes infected or the pulp of the tooth becomes infected. This is a treatment used to fix and save a badly decayed or infected tooth. In this procedure, the pulp and nerve are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed.
Why Does the Pulp Need to Be Removed?
If nerve tissue or pulp becomes damaged, it breaks down and bacteria begins to spread rapidly within the pulp chamber. You can end up with an abscess caused by all the bacteria and other decayed debris. An abscess is a pocket filled with pus that forms at the end of the roots of the tooth, and it occurs when the infection spreads past the ends of the roots of the tooth.
Infections in the tooth may also cause:
- Drainage problems extending outward from the root. A hole can occur through the side of the tooth with drainage into the gums or through the cheek with drainage into the skin.
- Swelling that may spread to other areas of the face, neck, or head
- Bone loss around the tip of the root
Signs you may need a root canal include:
- Discoloration (a darkening) of the tooth
- Severe toothache pain upon chewing or application of pressure
- Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums
- Prolonged sensitivity/pain to heat or cold temperatures (after the hot or cold has been removed)
- A persisten or recurring pimple on the gums