Each tooth is made up of four parts: the enamel, which is the outer hard shell, the dentin, that refers to the inner body of the tooth, the cementum, which is the root surface, and the pulp, that is the nerve and blood supply in the center. The vitality of the tooth is determined by the health of its pulp. When an irritation such as a crack, trauma, or bacteria from a cavity disturbs the pulp, it can become inflamed and eventually it can die and become infected. Often, this inflammation of the pulp is reversible, and with some care the tooth will return to normal. Sometimes, however, the inflammation does not subside, and in those cases we can perform a root canal treatment to allow the tooth to be saved.
A root canal treatment allows us to remove the inflamed or infected pulp of the tooth. Once the nerve is removed, the tooth is cleaned and disinfected from the inside and is then filled. Root canal treated teeth, especially molars, are routinely protected with crowns to help prevent them from breaking further.