What is RCT?
Tooth ache is the stuff of nightmares! In many cases, a person in this amount of pain 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. Traditionally, (and in Hollywood blockbusters!) RCT gets a poor rap – once again the stuff of nightmares.
Why have root canal therapy?
This treatment aims to relieve the pain AND save the tooth – AND avoid the problems that follow an extraction. Removing a tooth leaves a gap. Left alone, teeth either side drift into the 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 addressed preventatively 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. RCT provides a means of keeping natural teeth for longer.
When is root canal treatment 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.
Something to smile about . . .
The conversation about RCT is never a welcome one! However, the treatment is a good way to extend the life of the natural tooth and put off having to embrace alternatives with their associated pros and cons.