Root Canal Treatment or RCT is a tooth-saving procedure wherein the infected soft tissue of the tooth is removed and dental pain is eliminated. With the advanced technique and equipment available at our clinic, the majority of RCT’s can be accomplished painlessly in a single sitting.
Our tooth consists of three main structures – enamel, dentin, and pulp. Enamel is the hard outermost covering on the tooth. Dentin is also hard and comprises the middle layer. The pulp is the innermost structure comprising of soft tissue which contains the nerves and blood vessels supplying the tooth.
When the pulp of the tooth is damaged due to trauma or infection, the procedure required to save the tooth is root canal treatment. Caries (cavities or decay of teeth in laymen terms) usually first affect the enamel. If left untreated it can progress to the dentin and ultimately the pulp. If the pulp of the tooth is not affected, the tooth can usually be cured by a restoration (filling) and RCT is not required. However, if caries has progressed to infect the pulp, RCT is required to save the tooth. Likewise, trauma to the tooth can cause irreversible damage to the pulp, necessitating an RCT.
Root canal treatment basically involves removal of the infected and damaged soft tissue within the tooth, completely cleaning the pulp chamber and root canals and filling them with an artificial inert filling material. This eliminates the pain and infection and allows for long-lasting preservation of the tooth in the mouth.
Some common signs and symptoms which may suggest a need for root canal treatment include :
A severe toothache that tends to increase in lying down position.
Pain on biting on a tooth.
Significant sensitivity to hot, cold or sweets.
Swelling on the face especially in the jawbone area.
Change in color (discoloration) of a tooth.
The appearance of a boil or swelling in the gingiva (gums).
Delay in initiating root canal treatment can lead to a painful emergency. The infection can travel to the jawbones causing severe pain, swelling and damage to the bone surrounding the tooth. In certain situations, the infection can spread to surrounding facial areas which can have serious consequences. Neglect can also lead to a situation wherein the tooth cannot be saved, thus necessitating its extraction. Hence, in indicated cases, root canal treatment should be initiated at the earliest.
The only alternative to RCT is to extract the particular tooth. This would involve the replacement of the lost tooth by a bridge or an implant. It must be remembered no artificial substitute can be as good as your natural tooth. Thus, preserving your natural tooth by root canal treatment is usually the best option in most situations.
Contrary to common belief, recent advances in technique and equipment have made RCT procedure absolutely comfortable. The procedure is usually carried out under local anesthesia thereby eliminating any pain (sometimes anesthesia is not required!). Technological advances like flexible rotary instruments, electronic root apex locators and modern filling materials are some of the adjuncts used at the Smile and Profile Clinic to achieve perfection in Root Canal Treatment.
Traditionally root canal treatment was done in a series of appointments. However, now it is done in a single sitting or 2-3 settings depending on the grade of infection and the individual requirements of the case. Research studies demonstrate success rates of 95% or more for both single sitting and multiple sitting root canal therapies.
Once root canal treatment is successfully done, a ‘filling’ is needed to replace the lost tooth structure. If the tooth structure is severely damaged, a ‘post and core’ procedure may be required. To ensure that the tooth can be safely used for chewing/biting for a long time, a crown (cap) may be done. This is especially important for posterior (back) teeth.