Root canal treatment or endodontics is needed when the blood and nerve supply of the tooth (known as the pulp) is infected through decay or injury. You may not feel any pain in the early stages of the infection. In some cases your tooth could darken in colour which may mean that the nerve of the tooth is dead. Infection may spread through the root canal system of the tooth. This can eventually lead to an abscess. An abscess is an inflamed area in which pus collects and causes swelling of the tissues around the tooth. The symptoms of an abscess can range from dull ache to severe pain and the tooth may be very tender when you bite. If root canal treatment (RCT) is not carried out, the infection will spread and the tooth may need to be extracted.
Root canal treatment removes all infection from the root system of the tooth. Most root treatments involve at least two visits to your dentist. At the first appointment, the infected nerve tissue is removed and the tooth dressed. This usually alleviates any pain from the tooth. On the second visit the root canal is cleaned, disinfected, shaped, measured and filled to prevent any further infection. Root canal treatment is a skilled and time-consuming procedure and this is reflected in the cost of treatment. It is always quicker, easier and cheaper to extract the tooth but this is rarely the preferred option.