The root canal is the hollow space in the center of the tooth containing the pulpy nerve tissue that provides the tooth with a sensory function – which the ability to feel hot and cold. There can be up to four root canals in a human tooth. When the root pulp is damaged from cavity decay or fractures, pain is usually the result due to the increase in blood flow and cellular activity of the tooth. Bacteria can enter and multiply in the tooth, causing the pulp to die. If the tooth is not treated, the pain will get worse and infection can spread, possibly resulting in an abscess.
Root canal therapy involves removing the decayed pulp and cleaning out the canal. Dr. Walls will reshape the canal and insert medication to kill bacteria, if necessary. Once the dentist has determined that all infection has been cleared, Dr. Walls will fill the root canal with gutta percha, which is a rubber-like material. The tooth is then permanently sealed with porcelain or a permanent crown. Complete root canal therapy can take between one to three sessions, depending upon the condition of the tooth.