Tooth infections take hold when oral bacteria spreads inside the tooth via the roots. The infectious material can then move into the root canal in the center of the tooth and start to cause inflammation and damage to the pulp material within the canal. If the infection is left untreated over time, the pulp inflammation can start to cause damage to the actual root canal, which in turn threatens the life of the tooth.

There are a few different ways a dentist can correct an infected tooth with root canal damage.

Root Canal Therapy

Root Canal Therapy, or RCT, is also commonly referred to simply as a root canal procedure. This common procedure involves the dentist scraping out the pulp, disinfecting the canal, and then sealing the canal with a bio-cement. Removing the pulp prevents the infection from causing any further damage to the canal while the hard filling reinforces the structure of the root canal.

The canal is accessed through a hole drilled at the top of the tooth's natural crown. At the end of the procedure, your dentist will attach an artificial crown that will close the tooth back up and further protect the canal from future damage.


Has your tooth experienced frequent reinfections even after receiving RCT? Your dentist might decide to perform an apicoectomy, which removes the lowermost root ends of the tooth to prevent infection from entering the tooth through that route. Removing the root ends, or apexes, can improve the ability of the RCT structures to bolster the existing root canal. 

The dentist will cut into the gums and jawbone to remove the apexes. The remaining root segments will be sealed shut to further protect the entire canal from the chance of infection.

Tooth Hemisection

Has your root canal already suffered substantial damage due to a lingering infection? Several teeth have multiple roots and if the damage is inside one of those teeth, you might have an additional treatment option in a tooth hemisection.

Tooth hemisection involves the dentist cutting the entire tooth in half to essentially form two new teeth, with each having its own root and crown. The creation of the new teeth means that the root canal is no longer required in the center to supply muscle and tissue to the center of a larger tooth. Hemisections are often the last hope before extraction, but your dentist might still prefer the extraction if the tooth has other damage.