Inside the hard outer shell of each tooth is a specialized area called the pulp or nerve chamber. The pulp chamber contains a system of blood vessels, lymph vessels and nerves which enter from the bone through the root canals. This system provides nourishment for the cells within the tooth.

A tooth’s nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed, and infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a tooth, large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face. If your tooth’s nerve chamber becomes infected root canal treatment is often the only way to save your tooth. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form which will cause severe pain. In worst cases, the tooth may need to be extracted. Furthermore, additional surgical procedure called apicoectomy may be required.

Some indications of the need for root canal treatment may be:

  • Spontaneous pain or throbbing while biting
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold foods
  • Severe decay or an injury that creates an abscess (infection) in the bone


In a root canal or endodontic treatment, we will remove the damaged or infected pulp and replace it with a special filler. Because root canal infection weakens the structure of the tooth, once root canal procedure is performed, a dental crown is required to be placed on the treated tooth. Please click here to learn more about the dental crowns.

RC2 Step 1 After the tooth is anesthetized, an opening is made through the crown into the pulp chamber.
RC3 Step 2 The length of the root canals is determined.
RC4 Step 3 Unhealthy pulp is removed.
RC5 Step 4 Canals are filled and sealed. A metal post may be added for structural support or to retain restorative materials.

RC6 Step 5 The tooth is sealed with a temporary filling. Usually a gold or porcelain crown adds further protection.


In some cases, new infections might emerge after a root canal. If that occurs, a root canal retreatment may be required. Among the likely reasons for the reoccurrence of infection in a treated tooth include:

  • More than the normally anticipated number of root canals in a tooth (leaving one of them uncleaned)
  • A microscopic crack in the root of a tooth
  • A breakdown of the inner sealing material over time, allowing bacteria to recontaminate the inner aspects of the tooth