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A root canal treatment, also called endodontic therapy, is a procedure that removes the tissues in the hollow part of teeth, the pulp chamber and canals, thoroughly cleaning and shaping these areas to receive a sealer to keep germs, that circulate through you, from entering and setting up a base and causing infections. The part of the tooth visible in your mouth will need to be restored properly, to keep germs from re-entering from that end of your tooth. This usually involves placing posts and covering it with a crown.
Why do teeth need root canal treatments? Usually the tooth dies because of infections in the pulp from deep cavities (dental caries a.k.a. tooth decay), but periodontal disease and trauma can also be factors. Trauma can involve very heavy grinding and clenching of your teeth, accidentally biting too hard on something, car accidents causing teeth to smash together, etc. The goal is to save the tooth, otherwise bridgework or implants may be necessary.