Root canals notoriously have a bad reputation – fear not! They actually function to relieve pain caused by dead or abscessed teeth. Root canals are essentially a filling, but for the root (below the gums) rather than the crown (above the gums) of a tooth. Like fillings, they are performed with freezing in place, and are usually pain free. An access hole is made through the top of the tooth and long, thin files are used to clean out the infected pulp, or nerve, of the tooth. The nerve chamber is then rinsed with disinfectant and filled with a warm rubbery compound to seal off the tooth and prevent reinfection from bacteria.
After the root canal is complete, a filling is placed to restore the access hole. Depending on how big of a cavity or existing filling was present, a post may be used to help support the new filling. Finally, in most instances, a crown is placed to cover the tooth and protect if from fracture.