Natural teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Years ago, diseased or injured teeth frequently were extracted. Today, even if the pulp in one of your teeth becomes injured or infected, the tooth often can be saved through root canal (endodontic) treatment. The pulp is the soft tissue inside of the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves. It lies in a chamber and canal(s) that runs through the center of the tooth.
When the pulp is diseased or injured and unable to repair itself, it loses its strength. The most common causes of the pulp dying are a cracked tooth, a deep cavity requiring large fillings, or traumatic injuries to the tooth all of which may allow bacteria and their products to enter the pulp.
If the injured or diseased pulp is not removed, the tissues surrounding the root of the tooth can become infected, resulting in pain and swelling. Even if there is no pain, certain substances released by bacteria can damage the bone that anchors the tooth in the jaw. Without treatment, the tooth may have to be extracted and bone loss can occur.
To remedy this situation a root canal treatment may be the only way to save the tooth. This is where the pulp or remaining tissue is removed carefully from the pulp chamber and root canal(s). Each root canal is cleaned and shaped to allow it to be filled. A temporary filling is then placed. The tooth will then need to have a crown placed to strengthen the tooth and improve its appearance. The crown is needed because a tooth that has had a root canal no longer has blood supply and becomes brittle and can break.