Ever wondered what Root Canal Treatment is? Or what it involves?
Why are RCT carried out?
Root canal treatment is used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. The treatment is also known as Endodontics.
What is happening to the tooth?
The tooth structure is made up of a number of parts. The crown is visible part of the tooth in the mouth and the root is the part beneath the surface that anchors the tooth in position and extends into the jaw bone. The main part of a tooth is a soft material called Dentine which supports the harder enamel on the outside. The root has a hard surface called Cementum but at the centre of the root is the softer pulp layer.
When the blood supply or nerve tissue referred to as pulp is damaged, it breaks down and bacteria begins to multiply within the pulp chamber or canals. The bacteria and other decayed debris can cause an infection or abscessed tooth. In addition to an abscess, an infection in the root canal of a tooth can cause swelling that may spread to other areas of the face, neck, or head if left untreated.
How does the tooth get infected?
Nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed and infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a tooth and/or large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face
What does RCT actually involve?
During the procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form.
What are the signs that treatment is needed?
Usual signs to look for include:-
- Severe toothache, pain upon chewing or application of pressure
- Prolonged sensitivity/pain to heat or cold temperatures (after the hot or cold has been removed)
- Discoloration (a darkening) of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums
- A persistent or recurring pimple on the gums.
However, sometimes no outward symptoms are present and it is only when the infection gets worse and the pain increases that a patient notices and gets it checked out.
Treatments are usually performed in two visits and are generally not felt to involve any more discomfort than a filling as anaesthetic is administered by a dentist prior to treatment. In cases where there is already an abscess, the dentist may recommend a course of antibiotics which will reduce the swelling in the week before the root canal treatment. This allows the dentists to then use anaesthetic for the actual root Canal treatment itself.
The work is normally covered with a crown to ensure the best seal possible. If the root canal leaks then this can eventually lead to failure of the root canal. You can expect root canal work to last an average of around ten years but often longer.