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 from an accident or the placement of a deep filling or crown, 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 nerve necrosis or death, 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 with a rubber filling material called “gutta percha”, root canals alleviate pain and eliminate infection without loss of the tooth.
After completion of root canals, most teeth require a build-up (a filling under a crown), a post and a porcelain crown for long-term success. A metal post placed in the canal helps anchor the crown to the root. A root canal-treated tooth has essentially been “hollowed-out”, so a crown is required to protect the tooth from fracturing.