A simplified definition of Endodontic therapy (also called root canal therapy) is the treatment of an infected or inflamed tooth nerve, and surrounding bone in order to return the tooth to normal function. In most cases, a final restoration is then done by your dentist to return the tooth to normal form and function.
Each tooth has one or more roots, and inside each root lies one, or more, small tunnels called "root canals." Inside the canals are nerves and blood vessels that make up the living part of the tooth called the pulp.
If bacteria get inside ( or too close to) the pulp through a deep cavity or crack in the tooth, the pulp gets damaged. Sometimes, injury to the nerve can occur after a tooth receives some form of trauma, such as a blow or even if a tooth hits too hard continually when you chew. Following nerve damage, symptoms such as hot and/or cold sensitivity, pain on chewing, or a continuous dull ache that disturbs your sleep may develop. These are the body's way of telling us that we should have the tooth evaluated by our dentist.
When a root canal is needed, the first step is to get the tooth and surrounding
tissues profoundly numb. Then a small opening is made through which the
infected or inflamed pulp is removed with small files and germicidal irrigating
solutions. The canals are thoroughly cleaned of tissue and debris. Then
the canals are sterilized and completely sealed with a naturally occurring,
rubber-like material called gutta percha. This material is used by every
dental school in this country when doing root canals. Remember that all
of this is done while your tooth is numb. Contrary to popular belief,
there is usually very little, if any, discomfort during root canal therapy.
And, in over 90% of the time, simple anti-inflammatories easily control
the mild post-treatment tenderness, which is normal during the early stages
of healing. In 90-95% of the cases, you will keep your tooth the rest
of your life.