Root canal treatment (RCT) treats diseases and injuries to the dental pulp so as to conserve a tooth that will otherwise have to be extracted. The procedure is relatively comfortable and often painless as the tooth is anaesthetised during treatment.
Removal of the inflamed or infected dental pulp is the first step in saving the tooth. Under local anaesthesia, an opening is made in the crown of the tooth to get access to the infected or inflamed dental pulp within.
All root canal treatment procedures are done by isolating the tooth with a rubber dam to provide a clean and saliva free environment.
Rubber dam isolation and access into the tooth
Using small, specially designed hard or rotary files, the root canals are cleaned and shaped to a form that can be sealed. Debris with the canal is removed by flushing with an anti-bacterial solution.
X-ray showing files in root canal
The canals are finally filled or sealed with an inert material called gutta-percha. The tooth should be restored to full shape and function by either a permanent filling or a crown, depending on how much of the tooth is left. This should be done as soon as possible as there could be a risk of tooth fracture due to biting forces.
Gutta-percha root filling with permanent restoration
Root canal treatment may be done in single or multiple visits depending on tooth complexity. In between treatment appointments, medicament may be placed within the canals and the tooth is covered with a temporary filling.
Often, X-rays are taken to determine the length of the root and to monitor the various treatment stages.
A root canal treated tooth can function normally and can be maintained with routine dental care.
Root canal treatment involves the removal of the inflamed or infected pulp tissues from the tooth. The pulp can be inflamed or infected due to
• Deep decay or an extensive restoration that involves the pulp
• Cracked or fractured tooth due to trauma
• Excessive wear of enamel and dentine exposing the pulp
• Severe gum disease
Is root canal treatment painful?
Root canal treatment procedures are relatively comfortable and often painless as the tooth is anaesthetised during treatment. After treatment, the tooth may be sensitive or tender for a few days due to inflammation of the surrounding tissues. This discomfort can be relieved by taking mild analgesics or painkillers available over the counter at the pharmacy.
However, if the pain persists, or gets worse (e.g. more intense; accompanied by swelling), you should contact your dentist as soon as possible.
The information provided on this page does not replace information from your healthcare professional. Please consult your healthcare professional for more information.
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