If your tooth's pulp becomes damaged it may result in a 'dead' tooth. It is then more likely to get infected because it's no longer protected by your immune system.
There are a number of ways that your tooth's pulp can be damaged. These include:
- gum disease
All of these conditions can lead to bacteria infiltrating the pulp causing blood vessels and nerves to die.
Without treatment, a collection of pus (an abscess) can form at the root tip. This can lead to pain and swelling and may cause damage to the bone around your tooth.
The aim of root canal treatment is to get rid of the damaged pulp and the bacteria that are causing the infection. It involves removing inflamed or dead nerves and blood vessels from the centre of your tooth. This is done by drilling a hole through the top of your tooth into the root canal system and removing the dead tissue. The empty root canal system is then cleaned, filled and a permanent seal is put over the top of your tooth.