Root canals are tiny passageways that branch off from beneath the top of the tooth, coursing their way vertically downward, until they reach the tip of the tooth root.
Teeth can typically have between one and five canals within the roots of the teeth.
Many tooth problems involve infections that spread to the pulp or nerve, which is the inner chamber of the tooth containing blood vessels and other tissues. When the infection becomes worse, it can begin affecting the roots. A traumatic injury to a tooth can also compromise the pulp, leading to similar problems.
A diseased inner tooth brings a host of problems, including pain and sensitivity, as the first indications of a problem. A spreading infection can cause small pockets of pus to develop, which can lead to an abscess.
Root canal therapy is a remarkable treatment with a high rate of success if done properly, and involves removing the diseased nerve and tissue, halting the spread of infection and restoring the healthy portion of the tooth. In fact, root canal therapy is designed to save a problem tooth rather than having the tooth removed.
Most patients who have root canal experience little or no discomfort or pain, and enjoy a restored tooth that can last for a long period of time.