Root canal therapy is needed when a cavity has reached the pulp of a tooth, causing an infection of the nerve or when severe trauma has affected the tooth. It can be prevented with regular checkups and healthy oral care, but if the pulp does become infected, it must be treated to avoid further complications since it cannot heal by itself. For some patients, there may be signs that pulp is infected, but for others, no symptoms are obvious, and they are unaware that a problem even exists until they stop in for a dental exam. Some signs or symptoms may include sensitivity to hot or cold foods or liquids, pain, swelling, or even a bad taste in the mouth.
When endodontic therapy is performed, your dentist will clean out the infected pulp and disinfect the canals of the tooth to remove any remaining bacteria. The tooth is then filled with a special, biocompatible material to prevent further infections and help heal the tooth. Occasionally, a core build-up, bonded post, and crown are necessary for restoring a tooth to function.