A root canal is a procedure to preserve (not save) a dead tooth.
I say “preserve” and not “save” because it’s like mummification. It’s taking a dead pharoh and stuffing him — it’s not saving the pharoh’s life.
By the time you need a root canal, it’s too late to save the life of the tooth because it’s already infected and dying.
Why mummify a dead tooth? You do this because you want to keep the tooth in your mouth. It’s a dead tooth that’s mummified.
Why not pull the dead tooth out? Well, you can, and then you would have to replace the dead tooth with an implant to fill the hole left behind in your jaw along with a new, artificial tooth — and actually, the new school of thought is that going straight to an implant is the right thing to do.
The main reason for getting a root canal instead of an implant is that it’s simpler to keep your old tooth, even though it’s dead, because you can still benefit from having the structure of the dead tooth to chew food and help you speak properly.
Ever seen a movie where someone’s leg gets infected and it has to be cut off? A root canal is like that — you have to cut out the infected tissue inside the tooth to prevent infecting the rest of your body and killing you.
But there are consequences. Having a root canal done makes the tooth brittle and prone to fracture — think of the mummified pharaoh. The inside of the tooth has been scraped out, leaving the outer shell of the tooth dry, brittle, and prone to breakage.
That’s why a root canal procedure requires a second procedure shortly afterwards: A crown.
A root canaled tooth needs protection because you’ve carved out the tissue inside it. Enter: the crown, which is a rigid covering that is stronger than enamel that preserves the structural integrity of the tooth and prevents it from breaking.