Root canal treatment

A root canal procedure is done when the cavity or the tooth decay has infected the tooth nerve or pulp. Root canal treatment (RCT) is the cleaning, debridement and sealing of the tooth root canal system. A tooth can have a single canal or multi root canals as in case with molars. A dental X ray radiograph is a very useful diagnostic aid in this procedure. The treatment is performed in two or three stages and is a very skilled procedure.

A small or medium size cavity is usually restored with a direct filling material, however a large cavity or a broken tooth communicating with the nerve need a root canal treatment. Patients in this situation often present with severe pain or abscess. The alternative to RCT is tooth extraction. Early tooth extractions, especially for younger patients, have long-term adverse consequences and harm the integrity of arch and bite.

Contrary to common belief, root canal procedure is not traumatic or painful. Modern-day local anaesthetics are very effective in numbing the tooth and jaw to perform RCT chairside. An endodontic file is used to clean and debride the root canal to devoid the tooth of any bacteria. A dressing is placed, and the tooth is sealed with a temporary filling. In the follow-up visit, the temporary filling is removed, and the canals of the tooth are filled with a special hard rubber-like filling material.

The root treated tooth may require a full crown to prevent it from catastrophic fracture. Not all root treated teeth require crowns, a minimally damaged tooth can be restored with a direct filling material, whereas a tooth with large cavity often requires a crown. This is assessed by the dentist after the completion of RCT. The aftercare is no different from routine hygiene procedure and regular dental visits.