A root canal is an operation in which a hole is drilled into a tooth to relieve pressure against the root, which is usually caused by an infection. The procedure completely extracts the infected pulp of the tooth, according to WebMD.
Root canals are usually performed in response to damage to or infection of the tooth's sensitive root. As the infection develops, it puts pressure on the surrounding tissues that is typically very painful. Prior to the procedure, patients are commonly prescribed antibiotics to reduce inflammation. The procedure begins with a local anesthetic, usually Novocaine. When the area is numb, the periodontal surgeon drills into the crown of the tooth and makes a cavity inside of it, according to WebMD. The next step is to insert a specially designed scraper into each of the tooth's roots and extract the spongy pulp, which is often infected. The gum, which might also be infected, is then drained to relieve pressure. If the infection is serious, the tooth might be left open for a few days to drain. Eventually, the procedure ends with the tooth being packed with filler, usually gutta-percha. A post is then inserted and a crown is placed on the shell of the tooth.