The central portion of the tooth (pulp) is somewhat unique in that by performing its purpose of forming the tooth and root, it was trapped inside and left with a limited capacity for repair. Any injury to the tooth “uses up” some of this capacity and once it is gone, the pulp begins a process of degeneration and/or inflammation. If this process is quick, a painful toothache can result. If the process is slow, no symptoms may be evident until which time the pulp becomes infected. At this point, it is abscessed and very painful.

A root canal is a procedure that removes the inflamed and/or diseased pulp from the tooth, cleans and reshapes the canal spaces and then seals the space with a biocompatible filling material. Finally, a temporary filling is placed to cover the access opening while the tooth is healing. Most of the time, this can be accomplished in one appointment. Once the healing process is complete (usually within two weeks), the tooth can be rebuilt and protected as needed. This follow-up treatment is very important to protect the tooth from fracture.
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