In some cases, decay can extend far into the tooth, leading to infection and pain. Rather than removing the tooth, a root canal can often save its structure, which is usually less expensive and less problematic in the long run than treating issues that can arise if the tooth is extracted.

Root canals typically take one or two appointments. The nerves, pulp (the spongy interior of the tooth), decay and bacteria are all removed, and the tooth is filled with a medicated solution that restores its proper function. Once the nerves are gone, so is any pain. Finally, most teeth with root canals are crowned to restore their original appearance.