Illustration of tooth abscess and decay before root canal
Previous Next 2 of 7 Why you may need a root canal

Teeth have a soft core called dental pulp. The pulp extends from the crown — the visible part of the tooth — to the tip of the tooth's root in the jawbone. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. When a tooth is cracked or chipped or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp. Injury to the tooth also can cause pulp damage and inflammation. Left untreated, bacteria and decaying material can cause a serious infection or a tooth abscess, leading to pulp death, bone loss and loss of the tooth itself. Signs and symptoms may include swelling around your face and neck, a hole in your tooth, toothache or tooth pain, gum swelling, and temperature sensitivity.

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