What is Root Canal Treatment (RCT)?


‘Root canal’ refers to the hollow space within the tooth which is filled up with blood vessels, nerve endings and other cellular entities. Root Canal Treatment refers to the procedure involving the removal of all nerve tissues and blood vessels, etc from the root canal and the cleaning up of this hollow space to save the tooth from possible extraction.

Symptoms of Root Canal Treatment:

An RCT becomes necessary if a person with an infected tooth experiences any one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme sensitivity to hot and cold foods, even after the hot or cold foods have been removed
  • Unbearable pain while chewing and biting
  • Severe pain on applying pressure
  • Severe decay in the bone in which the tooth is embedded, causing an abscess in the bone.
  • Discoloration of the infected/ injured tooth
  • An injury that has led to an infection in the tooth
  • Tenderness and swelling in the gums of the adjoining teeth
  • A pimple on the gums which refuses to subside or recurs repeatedly
  • While an infected root canal does not always cause pain, it can be unbearable enough to keep the affected person writhing in misery all night long in most cases.

Till a few years back, any one or more of the causes mentioned above would be enough to call for an extraction. But today, thanks to RCT, an extraction is the dentist’s last resort.

Most infected and injured teeth can today be saved by a qualified endodontic using the Root Canal Treatment.

Why is RCT required?

When the pulp of a tooth is damaged or infected, it becomes a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria who then proliferate inside the safe precincts of the root canal.

As the bacteria inside the root canal increase in number, they cause an infection or an abscess in the affected tooth which might or might not be accompanied by pus deposits.

An abscess refers to a pus filled pocket along the ends of the roots of the tooth. An abscess is capable of causing serious damage to the tooth like:

  • Eating away of the bone along the tip of the root
  • Inflammation of the affected area which might even spread to the neck, head or face
  • Leakage of pus

What does RCT involve?

In the simplest possible terms, an RCT is a procedure involving the removal of all the pulp and nerve endings inside the root canal and then cleaning up this hollow thoroughly before sealing it up.

Since the nerve endings are removed altogether in a root canal treatment, the tooth loses all sensation and becomes insensitive to hot and cold, pressure, touch and pain. After an RCT, a tooth is dead for all practical purposes though it continues to dangle there harmlessly.

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