Endodontic therapy is a sequence of treatment for the pulp of a tooth whose end result is the elimination of infection and protection of the decontaminated tooth from future microbial invasion. Although this set of procedures is commonly referred to as a root canal, this term is imprecise; root canals and their associated pulp chamber are the anatomical hollows within a tooth which are naturally inhabited by nerve tissue, blood vessels and a number of other cellular entities, whereas endodontic therapy includes the complete removal of these structures, the subsequent cleaning, shaping and decontamination of these hollows with the use of tiny files and irrigating solutions and the obturation, or filling, of the decontaminated root canals with an inert filling, such as gutta percha and a usually eugenol-based cement. Crown should be placed as final restoration to prevent the tooth form shattering down due to pressure put on it by chewing. After the surgery the tooth will be "dead", and if the infection is spread at apex, root end surgery is required.
Although the procedure is relatively painless when done properly, the root canal remains the stereotypically fearsome dental operation, and, in the India, a common response to an unpleasant proposal is, "I'd rather have a root canal."