When a cavity or fracture is in or close to the nerve, the dentist may suggest a root canal in order to try and save the tooth. A root canal can relieve discomfort and allow the patient to keep the tooth and not have the tooth extracted. It can also prevent an infection or an abscessed tooth.
The nerve is located inside the center of the root of the tooth. While the patient is anesthetized or numb, the doctor can easily remove the nerve, clean out the canal that once housed the nerve, and then fill the canal with a special filling material.
Usually the root canal can be completed in one visit. The tooth is then restored with a core filling or a post and core filling and then a crown. It is recommended that teeth which have been treated with root canals be crowned, as they are now weak due to lack of nerve and blood supply.