Root canals are necessary when the pulp layer of a tooth becomes infected. Infection can lead to the loss of a tooth so it is necessary to remove the infection with root canal therapy. The procedure is generally comfortable and saves the natural tooth, prevents the spread of infection, and returns the smile to complete health.
Before the procedure begins, the area is completely numbed using a local anesthetic. Once the area is numbed, a rubber dam is placed around the infected tooth to protect the mouth and to prevent anything from falling into the back of the throat.
In order to access the infected tooth pulp, an opening is made through the top of the tooth to get down into the pulp chamber. A tiny instrument, called a dental file, is then carefully used to clean out the infected tissue and to shape the root canals to receive a filling. X-rays may be done to ensure that all of the infected pulp is removed before the filling is placed.
After the infected pulp is removed, the restoration is placed. In most case a crown is placed to protect and strengthen the tooth. However, if the tooth is severely broken down, it may be necessary to start by building up the tooth with a post and core.