What is root canal treatment (RCT)?
Root canal treatment involves removing the nerve and blood vessels that supply the tooth. It is needed when the nerve of the tooth (known as the pulp) is infected & dies because of decay or trauma from accident / fall.
You may not feel any pain in the early stages of the infection. In some cases, your tooth could darken in color which may mean that the nerve of the tooth has died (or is dying).
What is done during root canal treatment (RCT)?
Root canal treatment is a skilled and time-consuming procedure. This may require two or more visits to your dentist.
The aim of the treatment is to remove all infection from the root canal. A good amount of local anesthetic is administered to numb the tooth up.
- First, the dentist will remove any caries and makes an opening into the pulp chamber.
- Next, using a very fine instrument, she locates the nerve and removes it, then cleans the entire nerve canal, right down to the tip of the root.
- Progressively thicker files are used until the nerve canal until the nerve canal is thoroughly cleaned.
- Finally, the canal is rinsed and dried, filled and sealed with a plastic material.
Why do we need to do crowns after RCT?
After root canal treatment, the tooth is non-vital / dead, so it becomes weak and brittle. It is weak because the center of the tooth was removed to get at the infected nerve; only the sides of the tooth are left for support and it is more brittle because the nerve and blood supply are gone. For posterior teeth that experience more forces during the chewing cycle, they may develop cracks & fracture if not protected with a crown.
What is the difference between RCT & implants?
Root canal treatment is carried out to save the tooth and prevent the spread of infection. The procedure involves removing the damaged pulp from the tooth and the root canal is then cleaned of all bacteria.
After the bacteria have been removed, the root canal and pulp will be filled up using an artificial substance, before being sealed.
Some indications of the need for root canal treatment include:
- spontaneous pain or throbbing while biting
- sensitivity to hot and cold foods not relieved by other means
- severe decay or an injury that creates an abscess (infection) in the bone
Implants, on the other hand, are specially made posts that replace the roots of teeth that are missing and are used to support a new crown, fixed bridge or denture. It is made of titanium, a strong and lightweight material which has been shown to be compatible with the body and safe for use.