If the nerve within your tooth becomes infected, successful root canal treatment can keep you from losing the tooth while treating the infection before it becomes a serious problem. The procedure involves the removal of infected or dead pulp (the inner nerves and blood vessels) from inside the tooth, and placing a filler/sealer into the canal space.
An infected or abscessed tooth causes discomfort in the form of swelling and pain. It may also cause other complications, because the bacteria from the infection can enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body.
One way to treat the infection is to remove the tooth. However, tooth loss creates a gap between surrounding teeth that often necessitates a dental implant or bridge. It is preferable to save the tooth if possible through root canal (endodontic) treatment.