Root canal therapy becomes necessary when the tissue inside of a tooth becomes inflamed or infected due to trauma, cavities, and even simple dental procedures like fillings.
Symptoms indicating the need for a root canal may include but are not limited to: prolonged sensitivity to temperature, pain when biting, pressure in the tooth, and swollen gums adjacent to the tooth. It is also possible to need a root canal but not be experiencing any pain.
The root canal procedure itself basically involves removing the tissue from inside the tooth and roots, disinfecting and cleaning the inside chamber and canals, and then placing a filling inside the tooth and roots. This is done by utilizing specialized files, drills, and disinfecting solutions. A local anesthetic is commonly used, however when necessary, oral sedation, and nitrous oxide can be provided.
After the cleaning, disinfecting, and filling the inside of the tooth, a crown is usually placed to prevent fracture and reinfection of the tooth, as well as to restore proper form and function.
The two pictures are x-rays of a tooth before and after it was treated with a root canal and a crown.