What is Root Canal Treatment (RCT)?
Most of us know what a filling entails, but have little knowledge of RCT treatment, so here’s the run down from Centre for Dentistry, the dental practice in Sainsbury's.
- You may not feel any pain during the early stages of infection.
- In some cases your tooth may darken in colour, which could mean that the nerve (blood supply to the tooth) is dying.
- It’s important to know that you may not have any symptoms in the early stages of infection, so it’s not a case of ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to tooth decay.
If the pulp of the tooth becomes infected it will spread through the root canal of the tooth, and will eventually lead to an abscess. Pain from an abscess can come and go and antibiotics will only temporarily alleviate the pain; they also create resistant strains that can make them less effective with each use causing more problems later on. It is best to treat the tooth rather than rely on repeated use of antibiotics.
If root canal treatment doesn’t take place and the infection is left untreated the tooth may have to be taken out. Large abscesses destroy the bone around them limiting restorative options after the extraction.
- The aim of a root canal is not only to remove all infection from the tooth, but also to sterilise and completely fill the canal space with inert material.
- Infected pulp is removed and any abscesses can be drained. Then the dentist will clean and disinfect the tooth and place temporary filling before leaving the tooth to settle.
- At the second appointment the tooth is checked and when all infection has cleared the tooth is permanently filled with a rubber-like substance called “Gutta-percha” and a permanent filling.
- Sometimes it is possible to do an RCT in one appointment- this is not poor dentistry, and depends on how the tooth is after the first stage is completed; it may not be necessary to leave the tooth to settle.
- Very challenging cases may be referred to an Endodontic specialist.
- Teeth that have undergone root canal treatment usually have large amounts of missing tooth structure – your dentist may suggest a crown to strengthen and support the tooth.
- This procedure should feel no different to having an ordinary filling done. Sometimes there is some tenderness afterwards but this should gradually decrease with time.
Sometimes it is necessary to perform a root canal treatment on healthy teeth; this is called “Elective Endodontics”. This can happen in situations such as:
- When there is not enough tooth substance present to hold a restoration (such as a crown), a dentist might recommend an RCT treatment of the pulp of the tooth, followed by a “post and core” where the pulp is replaced by a metal post so that the tooth can hold the crown.
- When a dentist needs to maintain the roots of a tooth (e.g. to support a denture)
- In some cases a root canal can fail and need retreatment, sometimes years after the procedure. This can happen for a variety of reasons; your dentist will be able to explain to you why this has happened and the best course of action.
Please contact your local CFD practice for more information. See below.