A root canal is often the procedure most dental patients think of when it comes to being afraid of going to the dentist. Today, in the landscape of modern dentistry, the experience of having a root canal is very similar to having a cavity filled. A tooth in need of a root canal is often very sensitive to cold and hot foods, can have prolonged pain, have swelling in the gums around the tooth and even appear to be discolored. A root canal is performed to save a tooth that is suffering from extensive nerve damage. Endodontic treatment involves removing the nerve and blood supply (also referred to as pulp) from the canal in the root of your tooth. Next, the canal is sealed to prevent bacterial infection. Depending on the severity of the decay, the seal might be applied at a later appointment or on the same day. Also, many teeth that undergo a root canal will need a crown to completely protect the tooth and fully restore its functionality.