Root Canal Treatment (RCT)
A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. During a root canal 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.
Why Does Tooth Pulp Need to Be Removed?
When a tooth’s nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, it breaks down and bacteria begin to multiply within the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other decayed debris can cause an infection or abscessed tooth. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the roots of the tooth. An abscess occurs when the infection spreads all the way past the ends of the roots of the 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. Bone loss around the tip of the root and drainage problems extending outward from the root.
What Should One Expect After the Root Canal?
For the first few days following the completion of a root canal, the tooth may feel sensitive due to natural tissue inflammation, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This sensitivity or discomfort usually can be controlled with over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen. Most patients can return to their normal activities the next day. Until your root canal procedure is completely finished, the permanent filling is in place and/or the crown, it’s wise to minimize chewing on the tooth under repair. This step will help to avoid re-contamination of the interior of the tooth and also may prevent a fragile tooth from breaking before the tooth can be fully restored.
How Successful Are Root Canals?
Root canal treatment is highly successful; the procedure has more than a 80% success rate. Many teeth fixed with a root canal can last a lifetime this is because the final step of the root canal procedure is application of a restoration such as a crown or a filling, it will not be obvious to onlookers that a root canal was performed.
Alternatives to a Root Canal
Saving your natural teeth is the very best option, if possible. Your natural teeth allow you to eat a wide variety of foods necessary to maintain proper nutrition. The root canal procedure is the treatment of choice. The alternatives to a root canal procedure is having the tooth extracted and replaced with a bridge, implant, or removable partial denture to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting.
Root Canal Prevention
- Good oral hygiene practices (brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day)
- Scheduling regular dental visits may reduce the need for a root canal procedure.