Root Canal Treatment:
Every tooth in the mouth is a hard non-living shell surrounding a soft living core called the pulp. The pulp sits inside the roots of the tooth in narrow tubes called root canals. The pulp consists of the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth. When tooth decay progresses deep enough to reach the pulp, the decay starts to infect and damage these nerves and blood vessels, giving you a toothache. This pulp infection is irreversible: once it starts, the pulp cannot be saved.
A root canal treatment solves this problem by removing the irreversibly damaged pulp along with the infection inside it. This allows you to keep the hard outer shell of the tooth.
Root canal treatments are usually split into 3 stages over 3 appointments. In the first stage, your dentist will remove the infected pulp and tooth decay from the tooth. In the second stage, the root canals will be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected, and shaped to receive a filling. In the final stage, the root canal filling is placed to prevent any infection from being reintroduced into the root canals.
The root canals are incredibly fine structures and the deeper extents of them are nearly impossible to see directly. This is why your dentist will need to take several X-rays over the 3 or more appointments to check on the progress of the procedure. In between appointments, a temporary filling will be placed. After each appointment there may be some sensitivity from the area, and your dentist may recommend pain killers to alleviate the pain.
After the root canal treatment is completed, the tooth will still need to be repaired. In some cases, a simple filling will be sufficient. More commonly, the amount of tooth structure that needs to be removed to complete the procedure means that a crown or cap is needed to protect the tooth and prevent it from cracking.