Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function.
Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections.
Is there an alternative to RCT?
No; the only alternative method of removing the infection is to extract the tooth. Loss of a tooth can lead to many other complex problems in the region, which should be avoided. For Example, if a back tooth is lost and not replaced, the following problems can occur…
- Drifting of adjacent teeth.
- Further decay, food trapping and gum disease.
- Over eruption of opposing tooth.
- Jaw joint degeneration.
- Jaw muscle problems.
There is no real substitute for your own tooth.
Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:
- An abscess (or pimple) on the gums.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold.
- Severe toothache pain.
- Sometimes no symptoms are present.
- Swelling and/or tenderness.
Reasons for root canal therapy:
- Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth).
- Infection or abscess have developed inside the tooth or at the root tip.
- Injury or trauma to the tooth.
What Happens during treatment
Step 1: Relief of Pain Removal of the infected/damaged pulp from the inside of the tooth. Measurements of the lengths of the root canals.
Step 2: The root canals are cleaned, shaped and sterilized to a form that can be completely sealed
Step 3: The final stage is to seal the canals with a filling material to prevent further infection.
This treatment can take three to four visits, depending on the state of the tooth and the severity of the infection. Sedative dressings and temporary fillings may be placed inside your tooth between visits in order to settle the surrounding tissues and destroy any remaining bacteria.
Will there be any pain?
RCT is a comfortable procedure and it involves no pain since the tooth will be anaesthetised (numb) during treatment.
Success of Treatment
Studies indicate that about 95% of cases heal successfully and uneventfully. However, because people have varied healing responses and some infections respond differently no guarantee can be given.
We inform patients in advance if their tooth is considered less favourable and only treat teeth if there is a very good chance of it lasting a long time.
The final restoration of a root canal treated tooth is just as important as the root canal treatment itself to ensure long term success.
The tooth needs to be restored to its original shape, and strength as soon as possible and this may involve the placement of a post and crown to achieve this.