When a tooth’s nerve is infected or decayed, root canal treatment is required. The pulp (the live tissue within the tooth), nerves, germs, and any decay are removed in order to save the tooth, and the resultant space is filled with specific, medicated dental materials that return the tooth to full function.


A root canal is the therapy of choice for saving a tooth that would otherwise die and have to be extracted. Many patients assume that eliminating a troublesome tooth is the best treatment, but what they don’t understand is that extracting (pulling) a tooth is more expensive in the long run and can create serious difficulties for surrounding teeth. Root canal therapy is quite effective and typically lasts a lifetime, however, subsequent infections may require a tooth to be retracted. A dentist or an endodontist can conduct a root canal treatment in one or several sessions (a root canal specialist).


A rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) will be put around the tooth while it is numb to keep it dry and free of saliva. On top of the tooth, an access hole is formed, and a succession of root canal files are inserted one by one, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and germs. If there is tooth decay, it will be removed using specific dental devices as well.