About Your Tooth
Your tooth consists of two main parts: the crown, the part of the tooth above the gum line and visible in your mouth and the root or roots, the part of the tooth that lies beneath the gum line and is surrounded by bone. Inside each root is a small tunnel that runs the length of the tooth. This tunnel is the root canal and contains the pulp (nerves, blood vessels, and soft tissue), which is often referred to as the “nerve” of the tooth. The pulp may be irreversibly damaged by bacteria associated with decay, very deep restorations, fractures, trauma, or periodontal (gum) disease.
In order to preserve a tooth in which this has occurred, it is necessary to remove the diseased pulp tissue. This procedure is known as endodontic therapy or root canal therapy. Since endodontic therapy removes only the diseased pulp tissue from inside the canal, the rest of the tooth will continue to function normally. Removing the diseased or injured pulp can prevent the tooth from becoming infected or act as an irritant to the tissues surrounding the tooth. Root canal therapy can help save a natural tooth rather than having it extracted.