At the core of each tooth lies a mass of soft, sensitive nerve tissue called dental pulp that stretches all the way from the crown to the root. If bacteria are able to penetrate the tooth through a cavity or a crack in the outer enamel, the pulp inside will become infected and eventually die. The infection will continue to spread via the pulp chamber at the base of the tooth known as the root canal. This can lead to a buildup of pus called an abscess that can damage the jawbone.
Not too long ago, the only way to deal with an abscessed tooth was to have it extracted. Today, however, root canal therapy has advanced to the point where our endodontists are able to routinely save severely damaged teeth by removing the diseased or dead pulp within. Once the root canal has been thoroughly drained and disinfected, the space is filled and sealed. The entire procedure typically takes one to three visits.