Usually, root canals are recommended or needed when there is an infection deep within the tooth. The pulp inside the tooth can become infected with bacteria because of an injury or because of a severe, untreated cavity. Without treatment, the infection can become severe enough that the tooth has to be removed.
A root canal is essentially a four-step process. Treatment is usually performed over two office visits.
Using a needle, the dentist administers local anaesthesia to numb the tooth. It's common to feel a bit of a pinch in the area when the needle goes in.
Your dentist will then use very small tools, such as a small drill, to access the inside of the tooth by creating an opening in the top portion of the tooth. Next, the dentist will use small files to clear away the damaged and diseased pulp from the inside of the tooth. He or she will also use the files to shape the inner chamber of the tooth and root and might irrigate the chamber with water to wash away any remaining pulp. Your dentist might also put an antimicrobial solution in the chamber to kill any remaining bacteria and reduce the risk for further infection.
Once the chamber is thoroughly cleaned and dried, the dentist will fill it. A rubber-like material called gutta-percha is often used. The opening in your tooth with a temporary filling, while you wait for the permanent crown.
After a few weeks, your dentist will finish the treatment by placing a permanent crown or a similar type of restoration on the top of the tooth. Depending on the condition of your natural tooth, the dentist may need to place a small supporting post inside of the root chamber, to make the crown or restoration more stable.