Root canals are necessary when the inner-most layer of your tooth (pulp) becomes diseased or inflamed. Teeth may need root canals due to deep cavities, numerous fillings, cracks, or trauma. A root canal is the process of removing the diseased pulp from the tooth to help it function normally again. After the pulp is removed, the inside of the tooth is cleaned out thoroughly and sealed off. Most of the time, root canals are a very simple, straightforward procedure with little to no discomfort that can be done in one or two visits. If you continue to take good care of your teeth and gums, teeth with root canals can last a lifetime. It is especially important to have regular checkups and cleanings after a root canal, as a tooth without the nerve can still develop a cavity and gum disease.
After a tooth has had a root canal, it becomes more brittle and prone to fracture. Most of the time it is recommended a crown be placed on the tooth afterwards to re-strengthen it and allow you to function normally. In most situations, a referral to an endodontist (root canal specialist) is necessary as this is a highly specialized procedure. Endodontists are excellent at making these visits easy and comfortable for their patients.