Once upon a time, if you had a tooth with a diseased nerve, you’d probably lose that tooth. Today, with a dental procedure called root canal or endodontic therapy, you may save that tooth. Inside each tooth is a nerve which provides blood supply and nutrients to the tooth through the roots. When the nerve is diseased or injured, the tooth dies. Left untreated, a dying or dead tooth can become infected, causing pain and swelling. During a root canal procedure, the nerve of the tooth is removed, the root canal is cleaned and then sealed to protect it.
After a root canal has been completed on a tooth, the tooth can become brittle and weak as time passes since it no longer receives a supply of blood from the body. In order to protect the tooth and guard against cracks and fractures, a crown must be placed as a final restoration on the tooth.
Most of the time, a root canal is a relatively simple procedure involving one to three visits and causes relatively little pain. Fabrication and placement of the crown on the tooth requires an additional two visits and should be completed within 3-6 months of the completion of the root canal. While you may have heard many horror stories about root canals from well-meaning friends and family, the reality is that it’s a procedure that can save your tooth and your smile!