Every tooth contains a long thin strand of dental pulp that is comprised of nerves and blood vessels that give sensation and supply nutrients to the tooth. When the pulp gets inflamed or infected from injury or decay, the nerves die and the tooth often times becomes symptomatic or painful. The infected nerves need to be removed. If left untreated, not only will the pain persist, but the infection can turn into an abscess, which is a much more serious problem that may include bone loss in the jaw.
Root canal is done by first numbing the area around the tooth with local anesthetic. The dentist then creates an opening on the tooth into the pulpal canal of the tooth. This will enable the dentist to remove the infected tissue or nerve and clean the canal. After the infection has been removed, the space is filled with a filler material called gutta percha.
For molars and premolars that have undergone root canal, it is highly recommended that a crown be put on the tooth to prevent the tooth from fracture, to improve the appearance of the tooth and to increase the successful longevity of the root canal.