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 common 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.
We will numb the tooth with a local anesthetic, and during the procedure we do not expect any discomfort. It should feel very similar to a simple filling or crown appointment, but is just takes a little longer to complete. You will not be sedated, and you can drive yourself to and from your appointment.