BY DR. MATTHEW WEEKES
The prevalence of multiple missing teeth is low compared to a few generations ago. The common toothache was the result of a cavity that progressed into the hollow chamber of the tooth allowing bacteria to infect the enclosed pulp resulting in moderate to severe pain. Filling the tooth at that stage would not solve the problem, and the only option was extraction.
Today the availability of RCT and improved economic conditions has resulted in saving teeth and preventing the worry and embarrassment that so many of our predecessors experienced. This dental procedure is performed either by your general dentist or a specialist called an endodontist, referred to by your dentist.
RCT is usually as a result of a painful emergency. Usually it is done in one or two visits depending on the severity of the infection and the circumstances. Once anesthetised the procedure is mostly pain free. The first stage of treatment is to eliminate the pain and remove the infected pulpal tissue and drain the abscess if it exists. The patient may be placed on antibiotics and pain medication. An appointment is then made to complete the treatment at a subsequent visit.
After the tooth has settled down, and evaluated to be healthy and symptom free it should be protected by a crown to prevent breakage and maintain the best esthetics. Teeth that have RCT may become brittle and more susceptible to fracture and also may get darker in colour.
RCT should always be the treatment of choice where esthetics and chewing your food is a major consideration and there is no barrier to treatment.