Teeth are made of three main components: the hard outer shell or enamel, a softer, more sensitive middle layer called dentin and a soft tissue inner layer referred to as dental pulp. Dental pulp is made up of nerve tissue, lymph tissue and blood vessels. When dental pulp is traumatized by decay and bacteria, a fracture or even a forceful blow to the face, the tooth begins to die. Root canal therapy is often required to prevent or eliminate infection and tooth loss. During root canal therapy your dentist will make an access opening on the tooth to allow removal of pulp, nerve tissue and bacteria as well as any decay present. Once thoroughly cleaned, the tooth will be sealed with a permanent filling. At a subsequent appointment, the tooth will be receive a crown to prevent the tooth from breaking and to restore function. Your tooth may be sensitive for a day or two but that will quickly subside. Continued good daily oral hygiene habits and regular visits to your dentist are important to maintaining a healthy smile.