Endodontics is the dental specialty that deals with the nerves of the teeth. Root canals are probably the most notorious procedure in dentistry and the most common procedure relating to endodontics. When a tooth becomes infected it is usually related to the nerves in the root of the tooth. The infected nerves need to be removed. If left untreated an infection can turn into an abscess, which is a much more serious problem that can include bone loss in the jaw.
The area around the tooth is numbed with a local anesthetic to start the procedure. The dentist will then create an opening into the canal. He will then be able to remove infected tissue and clean the canal. After the infection has been removed, the space is filled with a sealant called gutta percha. It is highly recommended that a tooth that has undergone a root canal is fitted with a crown, especially a posterior tooth. This will improve the appearance of the tooth, and will minimize the likelihood of further damage to the tooth.
"Root canal" has become a scary term for dental patients to hear, but the benefits of the procedure and advances in dental technology have made it much less "scary". Local anesthetics and proper pain medication allow the procedure to be performed very comfortably. There may be some soreness following the procedure, but that is normal for most dental procedures. The procedure will also relieve you from pain caused by the infection allowing you to enjoy all the foods you love without any pain from heat, cold, or biting too hard. If you are experiencing pain consult your dentist today.