Root canal is a treatment to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth instead of removing it. The term "root canal" comes from cleaning of the canals inside a tooth's root. Decades ago, root canal treatments often were painful. With dental advances and local anesthetics however, most people today have little, if any, pain with a root canal. In fact, it's probably more painful living with a decayed tooth. When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp. Left untreated, this bacteria and decaying material can cause a serious infection or a tooth abscess, leading to pulp death, bone loss and loss of the tooth itself. Signs and symptoms may include swelling around your face and neck, a hole in your tooth, toothache or tooth pain, gum swelling, and temperature sensitivity. A root canal will remove all of the bacteria and bad material inside the tooth. Once removed and clean, the tooth is sealed to protect it and then restored to normal function.