A ‘root canal’ is the term that refers to the natural cavity or space within the center of the tooth. It is made up of the pulp chamber which provides nutrients and nerves to each tooth and the ‘canals’ that connect to each other or to the surface of the root of the tooth.
A cavity in the tooth leaves an opening where bacteria can enter and multiply. Left without treatment, these bacteria cause infections and form pockets or abscesses filled with pus up at the roots of the tooth. This causes severe pain and swelling that could spread to other areas of the face or head. Serious infections bring about bone loss around the tip of the tooth’s roots.
A root canal is a procedure done to treat and save a tooth that is damaged, infected or badly decayed. The treatment involves (1) removal of the nerves and pulp and (2) cleaning and sealing the infected area inside the tooth.
Teeth can become damaged and infected due to severe decay, repeated dental procedures, cracks in the tooth or trauma to the face. Constant pain, swelling and tenderness of the gums, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold and discoloration of the tooth are signs that one may need a root canal. A visit to the dentist will best determine the ways to deal with each particular case.