Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy (sometimes abbreviated as “RCT”) is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. To save the tooth, the living tissue inside the tooth (pulp), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with medicated dental material which restore the tooth to its full function.Having a root canal done is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would die and have to be removed. Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the solution, but what is not realized is that extracting a tooth can be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth. 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.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS FOR POSSIBLE ROOT CANAL THERAPY
- Swelling and/or tenderness
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
- Severe toothache pain
- An abscess (or pimple) on the gums
- Sometimes no symptoms are present
REASONS FOR ROOT CANAL THERAPY
- Decay has reached the tooth pulp
- Infection or abscess has developed inside the tooth or at the root tip
- Injury or trauma to the tooth
WHAT DOES ROOT CANAL THERAPY INVOLVE?
A root canal procedure requires 1 or more appointments and can be performed by a dentist or endodontist (a root canal specialist).
While the tooth is numb, a rubber dam (sheet of rubber) will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva. An access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria. If tooth decay is present, it will also be removed.
Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it will be sealed with either a permanent filling or, if additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling.
At the next appointment, usually a week later, the roots and the inside cavity of the tooth will be filled and sealed. A filling will be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth. In addition, all teeth that have root canal treatment should have a crown placed. This will protect the tooth, prevent it from breaking, and restore it to its full function.
After treatment, your tooth may still be sensitive, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed. You will be given care instructions after each appointment. Good oral hygiene and regular dental visits will improve the life of your root canal treatment.