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A: Sometimes, damage or decay gets deep into the tooth and can affect the root. If left unchecked, this could mean that the tooth either falls out or has to be removed by your dentist. In these cases, root canal treatment may be advisable.
A: Root fillings - sometimes also known as root canal work - can, in the long-term, essentially prevent your tooth from either falling out of having to be removed by your dentist.
A: Your dentist will take an X-Ray of the tooth to check the shape of the root canals and to see whether there is any further infection around the root. After putting you under local anaesthetic, the dentist will go through the top of your tooth into the pulp - the area right in the centre of your tooth that holds the nerves and blood supply. He will then remove the dead pulp and check for any infection. If the infection has spread beyond the tooth, he may have to give you a temporary filling and some antibiotics until it clears up.
After the pulp has been removed, the dentist fills the gap with a rubber-like material and puts a normal filling on top. An excellent 3D animation which illustrates the treatment perfectly is available and can be found at the BDA's 3D Mouth website.