Patients are often motivated to find a dentist when they have pain and swelling. When this occurs, it is often due to infection or damage to the pulp (nerve) of the tooth. This can be caused by trauma, dental decay or cavities.
Root canals involve the removal of the pulp of the tooth (the nerves and blood vessels) and the removal of bacteria. The inside of the tooth is cleaned and shaped then sealed to help prevent bacteria from reinfecting the tooth. This is done to save a tooth that would otherwise need to be removed. Root canals often have the reputation as being painful, but with modern anesthetics people no longer have pain during the procedure and often report little pain and discomfort following.