“Root canal” is the term used to describe the natural cavity within the center of the tooth. The dental pulp or pulp chamber is the soft area within the root canal wherein lie the tooth’s nerve that allows you to feel hot or cold sensations. This nerve in its living state is nothing more than a piece of meat inside the tooth. It’s purpose is to lay down the hard structure of the tooth, and is not vitally important to a tooth’s health and function after the tooth has emerged through the gums.
Root canals are a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Tooth pulp needs to be removed when it is injured from deep decay touching the nerve, or inflammation caused by sudden or residual trauma. Any swelling in the nerve will cause tightness inside the pulp chamber, shutting down the blood vessels that supply the pulp with oxygen and food. This leaves you in a very painful condition.
If you notice a problem with a tooth, do not wait until it hurts. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the roots of the tooth. Left alone, abscesses can become quite serious. In the days before antibiotics and modern surgery, dental abscess was a common cause of death.
If you get attention quickly, there is a better chance that the damage can be prevented and the tooth can be saved. Keeping your tooth helps to prevent your other teeth from drifting out of line and causing jaw problems or gum disease. Saving a natural tooth avoids having to replace it with either a bridge or an implant.