Root Canal Treatment is indicated when the pulp is infected due to decay or it gets damaged because of trauma. The inflammation of the pulp is called pulpitis. In initial stages the condition is reversible but if the infection persists, then the condition becomes irreversible. In that case Root canal treatment has to be done to save the tooth. If the treatment is not carried out the infection can spread to the underlying one and the supporting structure and there can be an abscess formation or loss of the bone causing the tooth loss. Root canal treatment is called as endodontic treatment because of nature of procedure wherein treatment is done inside the tooth. Necrotic, infected tissue is removed from the tooth and cleaning and shaping of canals is done followed by filling of canals during the procedure. With root canal treatment, tooth becomes non-vital as pulp is removed during the procedure.

 When is Root Canal Treatment required?

1.    Root canal treatment is required when the tooth decay reaches the pulp tissue and tooth becomes infected. Untreated tooth decay can cause spread of dental caries in pulp and then root canal treatment is required to treat the infection.

2.    If pulp exposure occurs accidentally or in case of deep dental caries close to the pulp, root canal treatment is done.

3.    Root canal treatment may also be done before giving dental crown or dental bridge to the patient to avoid any problems later on.

4.    If dental abscess is formed or in case of fracture of tooth exposing the dental pulp, root canal treatment is required for treatment of tooth. 

Symptoms which suggest that root canal treatment is required

No symptoms occur at times. Patient may experience these signs and symptoms when root canal treatment is required.  

1.    Pain in the tooth
This is the most common symptom which suggests that root canal treatment is required. Tooth is painful when pressure is applied on the tooth, like while biting. Patient may experience pain even on touching the infected tooth.  

2.    Sensitivity to hot and cold food stuffs
Tooth is sensitive to hot and cold sensation and the pain persist even after the stimuli are removed.

3.    Tooth discoloration
Tooth becomes discolored with or without the pain. Some times due to some trauma, the pulp is damaged. The process is very slow. Person does not feel any pain but the tooth becomes discolored as the pulp is necrosed and infected. In such cases if RCT is not done as there is no pain then because of infection the tooth can become loose and one can loose the tooth.

4.    Swelling and tenderness of gums
If swelling and tenderness in gum tissue adjacent to infected tooth is present, then it suggests that root canal treatment is required.

5.    Recurring or persistent bump on gums
Recurring or persistent bump on gums adjacent to infected tooth suggest that root canal therapy will be needed. These bumps on gums are drains for pus and patient may experience bad taste in mouth because of it.   

6.    Sleep disturbances
Tooth ache may be so severe that it causes sleep disturbances. It can cause night disturbances and in such cases, patient should consult dentist for root canal treatment.

Patient may also experience stimulating pain in some other part of the body because of tooth ache which is present. Pain in the back molar can cause stimulating pain in ears of same side and cause problem.  

Proper diagnosis is made for Root canal treatment after taking the complete history, doing clinical examination and after taking the x-rays. Dental x-ray will show a dark spot, radiolucency near the root of the tooth which will suggest infection in the tooth and if pulp is also involved, then root canal treatment will be required.

What if root canal treatment is not done

If the pulp portion of tooth is infected and root canal treatment is not done, then infection can spread to the supporting tissues of teeth and tooth abscess formation may take place. Further infection can spread to periodontal tissues and the bone and can ultimately even lead to loosening of the tooth. 

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