Root Canal Treatment (RCT, also called endodontics) is a dental procedure to treat infection at the centre of a tooth (the root canal system). The infection is caused by bacteria that live in the mouth and invade the tooth when:
Quite often it is the only alternative to removing a tooth and it can be provided for several different reasons, such as:
Root canal treatment involves removing the infected tissue from inside the pulp of the tooth, cleaning, shaping and disinfecting the root canal(s) and then filling & sealing it/them with a special material.
Once the root treatment is complete, the tooth is then repaired with a filling or crown.
Whether the treatment can be performed by your dentist or via referral to a specialist endodontist depends on a number of factors. Your dentist will assess the tooth prior to, and during treatment, and may suggest that a referral to a specialist is appropriate. The complexity of this treatment varies significantly between front and back teeth, with front teeth generally easier because:
The treatment is usually entirely painless, with local anaesthetic used at every stage of the procedure. Following treatment, the tooth may feel a little tender for a few days, but this can be normally controlled with the same medication that you might use for a headache. You will be advised of the need for medication at the end of the appointment.
In around 9 out of 10 cases, a tooth can survive for up to 10 years after root canal treatment, but problems can recur and it may be necessary to re-treat the tooth, or provide alternative treatments to remove the residual infection if extraction is to be avoided.
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