Underneath your tooth’s outer enamel within its core is an area of soft tissue called the pulp, containing nerves and blood vessels. Root canals are small channels that extend from the pulp chamber down to the tip of the root. When the pulp becomes infected with bacteria following damage to the tooth, the root can die and the infected pulp causes pain and discomfort. Root canal therapy involves the clearing out and sterilization of the infected tissue and pulp, replacing it with a special sealing material to prevent further infection. The tooth is usually protected from subsequent damage by placing a protective crown.