Root canal treatment is one of the most misunderstood and feared treatments in dentistry. It is why a good number of people are terrified to see a dentist. With some knowledge of the procedure it doesn't have to be that way. First of all many teeth with dental problems don't need root canals if the problem is addressed before the nerve of the tooth has irreversible damage. The main sign to look for to help you know if your tooth may need a root canal is if it hurts for no reason.
As an example if you get cold water on a tooth and it is sensitive but goes away fast that tooth may not need this procedure. On the other hand if you are sleeping in bed and tooth pain out of nowhere wakes you up the tooth causing that pain may have irreversible nerve damage. If it does it is important that you go to the dentist as soon as possible. This is very important because the longer you wait the more acidic the local environment around the sore tooth becomes and the tooth will become much harder to numb when you finally do go to the dentist. It is for this reason that this procedure has such a bad reputation for pain because it was so hard to numb the tooth.
The good news is that the vast majority of root canals are no more uncomfortable than having a filling for a bad tooth. Also with the advancement in equipment and training most root canals are finished in under an hour. Once the nerve inside a tooth becomes irreversibly damaged it is critical to clean it out. Otherwise the damaged nerve will start to break down and bacteria will grow inside the tooth and eventually in the surrounding bone. This is called an abscess and can lead to life threatening infections.
The actual procedure to clean out and fill the damaged nerve involves first thoroughly numbing the tooth, making a small opening in the top of the tooth, then cleaning out the inside of the root and sealing it. Once completed the pain in the tooth should subside and any bone damage can heal. The main thing to remember is that if you suspect a tooth may have nerve damage you should get it checked right away so that the proper treatment can be performed to get you out of pain in the easiest way possible.
Source by David Akina