Root canal therapy becomes necessary when the inner nerve of a tooth becomes affected by decay or infection. When this happens, the tooth may become extremely sensitive to both pressure and temperature, and intense pain can be expected. In the initial stages of decay and infection, it is possible that no symptoms would be present. However, in the advanced stages of decay and infection an abscess (pimple-like inflammation on the gums) will form.
When confronting this type of decay or infection, the patient has two options: pull the affected tooth or save the tooth through root canal therapy. When extracting a decayed or infected tooth, significant and costly dental problems will arise for adjacent teeth. In the end, tooth extraction may cause more problems than it will solve. Root canal therapy is a much more desirable alternative, as it will provide full functionality to the tooth and mouth, and will not cause any future problems with adjacent teeth.
The reasons a dentist will recommend root canal therapy include the following:
Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth)
Development of infection or abscess inside the tooth or at the root tip
Trauma or injury to the tooth
The restoration that root canal therapy provides will usually last a lifetime. It will provide full functionality back to your tooth and mouth. There may be a need in the future to retreat the tooth, but this would only be necessary if a new, separate infection arose.