A root canal becomes needed when tooth decay is so badly neglected that it reaches the tooth pulp. Once the pulp is infected it cannot heal on its own. Sometimes tooth trauma such as a fracture can lead to the need for a root canal as well. In addition to being painful, untreated infections can reach the root tip and compromise the entire immune system.
Symptoms of pulp infections may be:
- Sensitivity to hot or cold
- Sensitivity to sweets
- Pain, especially when biting
- Bad taste in the mouth
A root canal procedure includes cleaning out the infected pulp, disinfecting the canals and filling the void with a rubber-like substance to prevent further infection. Sometimes a crown is recommended to restore the tooth shape and look.