Root canal treatment What’s that?
Introduction
Your dentist has recommended root canal treatment to save your tooth. What is this essential therapy?
 

A Healthy Tooth
A tooth consists of a crown and one or more roots. The roots anchor the tooth in the jawbone. Within the tooth is the pulp, which contains nerves, lymphatic vessels and blood vessels that nourish the tooth. (Diagram-healthy tooth)

  A Diseased Tooth
In a diseased tooth, the pulp is infected or damaged. The causes are usually tooth decay and sometimes, trauma or gum disease. (Diagram- diseased tooth)
 
What are the benefits of RCT?

RCT saved teeth that would otherwise be extracted. Although the pulp has been removed, the tooth is still anchored in the bone and can still be used for biting and chewing.

What are the alternatives to RCT?
Extraction is the only alternative. The extracted tooth will have to be replaced by denture, bridge or implant. Otherwise neighboring teeth will move into the space, creating problem with eating and cleaning. This can lead to gum diseases and new cavities.

Is RCT painful?
RCT is relatively comfortable procedure and it involves no pain since the tooth will be anaesthetized during treatment. However, you may have some discomfort after each appointment due to the inflammation of the surrounding tissues. A mild analgesic will usually take care of the discomfort. If you experience severe pain, then you should call your dentist.

  How is RCT done?
1) The tooth is first isolated with a sheet of rubber (rubber dam) and an opening is made to the crown of the tooth.
  2) The diseased pulp is removed from the pulp chamber and root canals. The canals are cleaned and shaped using special instruments (Diagram 2).
 

3) The final stage is to seal the canals with a filling material to prevent further infection (diagram 3).

4) The treatment can take several appointments, depending on how complex your case is. It is necessary to take a number of radiographs (x-rays) during treatment. These are required to check the various treatment stages.

 
Conclusion

When RCT has been completed, a filling or crown (cap) will be necessary. This will restore your tooth to its original shape and function. A root canal treated tooth may be slightly more brittle than normal tooth but with the proper restoration and care it can last a lifetime. Proper dental care includes regular brushing, flossing, proper diet and regular dental checkups.