The dreaded root canal! In reality a root canal's reputation for causing pain is undeserved, and typically the patient experience is similar to a routine filling.
When a tooth has a deep cavity, crack, or traumatic experience it may require more treatment than just a filling. Teeth are made of 3 distinct layers with the central layer, called the dental pulp, being made of blood vessels and nerves. When a tooth is damaged enough to either greatly inflame the nerve, or kill the nerve, causing an infection, a patient may experience severe pain. Whenever this situation presents itself there are only two solutions available - an extraction or a root canal procedure.
What is root canal therapy? Just like a normal dental filling involves removing decay from the tooth and replacing it with a filling. A root canal is almost exactly the same as it involves removing decay/infection from inside the root and replacing it with a special rubber filling.
Typically root canal procedures take one or two appointments depending on how infected the tooth is. The dentist will freeze the affected tooth, remove the nerve from the root of the tooth, and then disinfect the root canal to remove any bacteria/infection. Once thoroughly disinfected the root canal is filled with a rubber-like material called gutta percha. The dentist will then assess the strength of the remaining tooth and recommend either a permanent filling or crown in order to ensure a long lasting tooth.