Root canals are performed on teeth that have sustained nerve damage through extensive decay, fracture or trauma. If a cavity grows large enough, or if you suffer an injury to your tooth, it can damage the nerve, causing it to become irritated, inflamed, and eventually die. This can cause pain, swelling and serious infection. In cases of tooth necrosis, your tooth may sustain nerve damage with no visible signs or symptoms until your dentist discovers it.
By removing the damaged nerve and cleaning out and sealing the canals that housed it, root canals alleviate pain and eliminate infection without loss of the tooth. After completion of root canals, most teeth require posts and porcelain crowns for long-term success. A metal post placed in the canal helps anchor the tooth to the root. A root canal-treated tooth has essentially been “hollowed-out”, so a crown is required to protect the tooth from fracturing.