Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp (living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special medicated dental materials which restore the tooth to its full function. Teeth needing root canal therapy are not always symptomatic.
Having root canal therapy on a tooth is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would get infected, swell and lead to severe complications. Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the best solution, but extracting (pulling) a tooth will ultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth. Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although occasionally a tooth may have to be re-treated due to new infections.