In the past, if you had a tooth with a diseased nerve, you'd probably lose that tooth. Today, with a special dental procedure called root canal treatment, you may save that tooth.
All teeth are hollow and contain what is known as the pulp. The pulp is the vestige of the tissue that originally formed the tooth, and contains nerve tissue and blood vessels.
Root Canal Therapy is required when a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp. Germs can cause an infection inside the tooth. Left without treatment, pus builds up at the root tip in the jawbone, forming a "pus-pocket" called an abscess. When the infected pulp is not removed, pain and swelling can result. Certain by-products of the infection can injure your jawbones and your overall health. The infected nerve must by removed either by root canal therapy or by removing the tooth as a whole.
Treatment generally involves one visit. During treatment, the dentist removes the diseased pulp. Next the pulp chamber and root canal(s) of the tooth are cleaned and sealed. Most often, teeth that have had root canal therapy should have a dental crown placed in order to strengthen the remaining structure. Then, as long as you to continue to care for your teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing, and checkups, your restored tooth can last a lifetime.
Most of the time a root canal is a relatively simple procedure. Best of all, it can save your tooth and your smile!