Root canal treatment (endodontic treatment) is a procedure that is undertaken when the blood or nerve supply of the tooth is infected through decay or injury. If the pulp becomes infected, the infection can spread through the end of the tooth into the surrounding bone. This is called an abscess. If left untreated the abscess can spread into the soft tissues resulting in swelling and pain.
Root canal treatment involves removing the infected contents of the root canal. This is a painless procedure carried out under local anaesthetic. Because the root canals are very small, microscopes are used to magnify the area. The root canal is then filled and sealed.
In some cases root canal treatment can fail. Specialist treatment is usually required to remove the existing root treatment. This is a time consuming and technical procedure. If the root filling cannot be successfully removed, other options can include surgery (apicectomy or extraction).