What is a root canal?
A root canal (non-surgical root canal therapy) is a common procedure in which the tooth is de-vitalized, meaning that the nerve and blood supply (the pulp) is removed and disinfected, and the space left is re-filled with an inert filling material to seal out bacteria.
What causes a tooth to need a root canal?
A root canal is a necessary procedure to save the tooth when the nerve has become affected, causing irreversible damage or even killing it. By far, the most common way that a tooth's nerve is affected in this way is from a cavity (dental decay) reaching the nerve allowing it to be infected by bacteria. Other ways that the nerve can be affected are through trauma which disrupts the blood supply to that tooth causing the nerve to die, fracture into (or close to) the nerve, cracks that extend into the nerve, and repeated dental procedures. The commomn signs and symptoms that alert dentists and patients to the need for a root canal are constant or un-elicited pain, extreme sensitivity to hot or cold, pain to tapping on the tooth, or x-ray evidence of an infection...