Root canals are tiny passageways that branch off from beneath the top of the tooth, coursing their way downward until they reach the tip of the root. All teeth have between one and four root canals.
Many tooth problems involve infections that spread to the pulp, which is the inner chamber of the tooth containing blood vessels, nerves and other tissues. When an infection becomes worse, it begins to affect the root of the tooth. A traumatic injury to a tooth can also compromise the pulp, leading to similar problems.
A diseased inner tooth brings a host of problems. Pain and sensitivity are some of the first indications of a problem, but inside the tooth, a spreading infection can cause small pockets of pus to develop leading to an abscess which can go unnoticed.
Root canal therapy is a remarkable treatment with a very high rate of success. A root canal involves removing the diseased tissue, halting the spread of infection and restoring the healthy portion of the tooth. In fact, root canal therapy was designed to save a problem tooth — before the procedure was developed and gained acceptance, the only alternative for treating a diseased tooth was extraction.