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Is it possible to use medication to repair hurting roots that aren’t as damaged to warrant a root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment (RCT) is the cleaning of the innermost chamber of the tooth, the pulp. It is the pulp that provides the blood and nerve supply to the tooth and hence the source of pain. Once a cavity has touched the pulp of the tooth, or is very close to it, a root canal treatment is recommended.

The dentist removes the infected pulp and replaces it with a bio-compatible material. The pulp has to be removed from both the crown (the portion of the tooth that you see) and the canals of the root (the portion inside the bone). Hence the name, root canal treatment. Since this area is inside the bone, it is also the reason why the dentist requires some form of radio-graph  to determine the outline of the root and its canals.

At this level the cavity is very deep, since it has already infected the enamel, passed through the dentin layer of the tooth as well, and is now near the pulp. Once the cavity has reached dentin itself, a person will begin to have sensitivity and pain as it proceeds deeper towards the pulp. Any medication at this level, can only be placed by the dentist. What the dentist would do in such situations is, remove any infected dentin in the cavity, as much as possible, and apply the medication and then seal up the tooth with a temporary filling material. And then wait and watch, for a short period of about 3-4 weeks, approximately.

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[Q&A] Infection in a root canal treated tooth

A reader asked:

“I got a root canal done in 1999. However, it has recently started hurting. :(. It’s a dull ache that comes and goes. I saw a dentist and she told me that I need a re-root canal as there is an infection. This was 4 months ago… if a root canal is done it cannot get infected right? I mean the tooth is already ‘dead’. How can it hurt?”

Ideally, a root canal treatment (RCT) done properly shouldn’t cause any problems. But here’s a list of things that could have gone wrong:

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