Root canals are necessary to save teeth if decay has progressed to the nerve inside the tooth. A root canal might also be indicated when a tooth fractures into the nerve inside the tooth. During the procedure, the nerve and other infected tissue are removed from inside the tooth. The cleaned nerve chamber is then filled with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. When the nerve is taken out of a tooth, the blood supply for the tooth is also lost. The tooth becomes non-vital, or dead, but still can be functional for a patient’s lifetime if properly protected. A non-vital tooth is more brittle than a vital tooth, so to prevent the tooth from breaking, a porcelain or gold crown is usually placed over the tooth.