The purpose of root canal is to ultimately proclaim infection free status of the supporting and surrounding structures of the tooth even though the pulp tissue (nerve tissue) has undergone irreversible degenerative changes. It helps to ward off formation of dental periapical abscess (A periapical abscess is the result of a chronic, localized infection located at the tip of the root, or apex, of the root of a tooth. The defense systems of the body attack the infection with a large amount of white blood cells and pus is a collection of white blood cells, bacteria and dead necrotic tissue which usually come from the infected root canal of the tooth and seep to the periapical area from it) and prevents spread of infection to the surrounding tissues from the already infected nerve tissue. The body reacts with an inflammatory reaction to any irritants present so infection seepage from degenerated nerve tissue of the tooth acts as an irritant in the surrounding structures of the tooth and leads to inflammation below the root end which might spread further. Root canal treatment prevents it maintaining and restoring the health.

When the nerve tissue is inflamed and not infected (infection is caused by outside disease causing organisms i.e. pathogens whereas inflammation is the tissue or body’s response to the irritant stimuli and pathogens being one of the one of the inflammatory stimuli. ) it may heal on its own . The essence of root canal treatment lies in the efficiency of the treatment to stop infection causing bacteria from seeping through the infected root canal to spread the infection further. To save the tooth and keep it retained in the mouth for life long in proper function, structure and comfort is the main goal of the root canal therapy.

How root canal treatment saves the infected tooth

Root canal Treatment saves the tooth and keeps it retained in mouth for life long in proper function and structure by cleaning the entire tooth of the degenerated and infected nerve tissue, organic debris and bacteria including the harmful toxins produced by the bacteria all of which might be leading irritants causing an inflammatory response in the body.

Finally after thorough disinfection and irrigation, the canal is sealed to prevent infection to reoccur and also contains it from spreading to deeper parts of the jaw bone .In totality a perfect seal does it all effective treatment of present problem and secure prevention of any future treatment failure.

Root canal treatment is mostly done in 2 appointments and duration of appointment is around 45 minutes to 1 hour. Second dental appointment is given 1-2 weeks after first appointment.

To summarize, goal of root canal treatment is to cure the infection in the tooth, save the tooth and prevent any complications. Success rate of root canal treatment is about 80%.

After root canal treatment, dental crown is given on root canal treated tooth to hide the discoloration which may occur after root canal treatment and to provide strength to root canal treated tooth.

When is root canal treatment done

1. Root canal treatment is done in case of untreated tooth decay which has reached dental pulp. If nerve tissues have become infected and inflamed, then tooth will become painful and sensitive and root canal treatment is required to treat the infection.

2. In case of pulp injury or in case of accidental exposure of dental pulp, root canal treatment is required.

3. Before giving fixed partial denture, root canal treatment may be done.

What if root canal treatment is not done

If root canal treatment is not done, then infection will spread from tooth to the bone surrounding the tooth and can lead to pus formation in the tooth. Pus formation can occur because of rapidly multiplying bacteria and with accumulation of pus in the tooth; tooth will become extruded from the socket and will cause pain on biting down. With spread of infection, patient may also suffer from swelling, fever, nausea, difficulty in swallowing and breathing.

Various complications which can occur if root canal treatment is not done are loss of tooth, mediastinitis, sepsis, Facial cellulitis or ludwig’s angina, Steomyelitis of jaw.


If patient doesn’t get root canal treatment done, then to remove the infection from the tooth, he can get tooth extraction done. It is always better to save a natural tooth than getting it pulled out as in case of missing tooth, the adjacent teeth will start shifting towards the missing teeth and will lead to teeth misalignment of teeth. Mastication is also affected in case of missing teeth. If a tooth can be saved by root canal treatment, then it should be saved by root canal treatment. Once root canal of tooth is done, tooth lasts for lifetime.

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