Anatomically, the root canal is the chamber that runs through the center of a tooth. The pulp is the soft material within it, and the tooth’s nerve also lies here. In treatment terms, a root canal is the procedure for cleaning out this area of a badly damaged or infected tooth to save it rather than extract it. During a root canal, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form. A tooth’s nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed, and infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a tooth, and/or large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face.