Root canal treatment refers to a procedure whereby the dental pulp (the nerve and blood vessels) within the tooth root is removed and replaced with a special filling material. The dental pulp requires removal if inflammation and infection are evident, which often presents as a severe toothache. Sometimes this is accompanied by swelling or an abscess. Inflammation and infection can be a result of a variety of factors – most commonly, however, extensive dental decay or dental trauma is the cause. The procedure itself involves creating an opening on the biting surface of the tooth and removing the infected nerve and blood vessels from inside the tooth root. This is followed by thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the open space within the tooth root. The root canal space is then filled and sealed to prevent further infection. A filling is also placed inside the opening of the tooth.
This procedure is often done over a number of appointments to ensure the infection can subside between visits. Root canal treatment is a very involved and intricate procedure. Your general dentist may opt to refer you to a specialist endodontist for further management in complex cases to ensure you are receiving the best care.