Root canal therapy (RCT) might not seem like it could save the day, but it could save a tooth from needing extraction in many cases. The restorative treatment describes removing the nerves, blood vessels, and inner tissues from within a tooth’s pulp (center chamber) and its root canal.
If tooth decay reaches a tooth’s pulp, or if the chamber and tissues become exposed due to damage (such as a tooth fracture), then removing the tissues could save the rest of the healthy tooth structure. If you hesitate, however, then the tooth itself could become a liability and require extraction.
What Causes the Need for Root Canal Therapy
A tooth’s pulp is surrounded by the dense, durable main structure of the tooth, called the dentin. Two common ways that the dentin can become compromised is tooth decay (the condition that leads to cavities) and tooth damage (such as a cracked or broken tooth).
If tooth decay is the reason, then the need for root canal treatment may be avoided. When detected early enough, a cavity can be treated by cleaning away the infected tooth structure and filling the cavity, usually with tooth-colored composite resin. If the tooth is damaged, then RCT may help avoid internal tooth infection before the tissues can become infected by oral bacteria.
When RCT is the Last Resort
Given time, an internal tooth infection can ravish the tissues and main structure of the tooth. Eventually, there will not be enough tooth structure left to save, even with a dental crown, and the tooth could fall out or need to be extracted. Besides preventing more extensive infection, root canal therapy can also help you prevent tooth loss or extraction and preserve more of your healthy, natural smile.