Why you may need root canal therapy
Tooth ache is the stuff of nightmares! In many cases, people would happily be rid of the tooth completely. Take it out, now! Once the dentist has assessed the tooth, however, they may introduce the topic of root canal therapy, or RCT.
A way to save the tooth
Through this treatment, the dentist is aiming to relieve the pain AND save the tooth – thereby avoiding problems that follow extraction. Removing a tooth leaves a gap. Left alone, the teeth either side will drift into this space, losing their alignment for chewing and, of course, their appearance. Sometimes the opposing tooth (eg. top tooth after lower extraction) grows longer (over-erupts) without the normal contact and resistance from its partner. These problems are best prevented by filling the gap – either with a ‘false tooth’ (crown /bridge) or via a dental implant. These are great options for replacing a tooth, but can never be quite the same as a natural tooth. Successful root cananl therapy means keeping natural teeth for longer.
When RCT is an option
A tooth is a candidate for RCT when the pulp (nerve and blood vessels) is damaged or infected and unable to heal itself. The treatment involves opening the tooth to remove the infected (painful) tissues and thoroughly cleaning the chamber. This chamber, which includes a canal for each root of the tooth is filled with a special cement and temporarily capped for a period of healing. A permanent crown is placed which is made to appear as close in colour and shape as the original tooth.
The conversation about RCT is never a welcome one! However, the treatment is a good way to extend the life of natural tooth and put off having to embrace alternatives with their associated compromises.