What is Root Canal Treatment (RCT)?
Root Canal Treatment is the process of removing an infected, inflamed, or necrotic (dead) pulp of the tooth & filling the residual space with an inert material. The purpose of Root Canal Treatment is to preserve the tooth in your mouth instead of extracting it.
During root canal or endodontic treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed & the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Afterwards, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection.
Why Does Tooth Pulp Need to Be Removed?
When a tooth’s pulp is damaged, it breaks down.Bacteria then begin to multiply in the pulp. The bacteria and decayed debris cause an infection or abscessed 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 root’s tip
- Drainage problems extending outward from the root. A hole can occur through the side of the tooth with drainage into the gums or through the cheek with drainage into the skin.
Since the whole treatment is carried out under Local Anaesthesia, patient could feel no/minimal pain throughout the Root Canal Treatment.
Indications of Root Canal Treatment:
- Tenderness in your gums near a tooth.
- Presence of swelling in your gums near a tooth.
- Persistent toothache.
- A tooth that is darkened following a trauma.
- Deep dental caries.
- Chip/Crack/Fracture in the tooth.
- Injury/Trauma to the tooth.
- X-rays – show a dark spot at the tip of the tooth’s root, indicating a reduction in density of the bone surrounding the root’s tip due to the infection inside the tooth.
- Persistent or recurring pimple on your gums detected by the dentist.
- Due to Exposure of a tooth’s nerve (pulp) during dental work – may occur when the dentist is carrying out other dental work, in which case a root canal treatment may be necessary to prevent the degeneration of the tooth’s nerve tissue.
What is the success rate of Root Canal Treatment?
Root canal treatment is highly successful; this procedure has more than a 96% success rate. Many teeth fixed with a root canal can last a lifetime.
Besides that, because the final step of the root canal procedure is the application of a restoration such as a crown or a filling, it will not be obvious to anyone that a root canal treatment was performed.
What are the Alternatives to Root Canal Treatment?
The only alternative to Root Canal Treatment is having the tooth extracted and replaced it with a Bridge, Implant, or Removable Partial Denture in order to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. These alternatives are more expensive than a root canal treatment. Besides, they require more treatment time and additional procedures to adjacent teeth and supporting tissues.
It is always better to preserve the natural teeth in your mouth instead of extracting them.
Article written by,
Dr. Wong Kee Cheong (Tommy)
BDS (AIMST), MBA (SEGi), YCDP