Your teeth are exceptionally strong and perform some different essential tasks. To keep your teeth strong and healthy, it is important that you take good care of them. While the enamel may be the hardest substance in the human body, this does not mean it is impervious to damage. It can be faced with cracks, fractures, and decay, all of which can allow bacteria to enter the sensitive inner layers of your teeth. Once bacteria are inside the tooth, they quickly multiply and irritate the pulp. When this happens, a painful infection occurs. We can eliminate the infection, restoring your oral health, with a root canal.
How Do Bacteria Get a Tooth?
On first glance, the teeth appear to be pretty simple. However, they are quite complex. The outer layer, the enamel, is only one layer. Under the enamel is the dentin, which contains hollow canals that lead to the roots of your teeth. Under the dentin is a chamber that houses the pulp, or soft tissue that contains nerves and blood vessels.
The enamel may be strong, but it is not indestructible. Chips, fractures or tooth decay can provide direct access for bacteria to enter the interior of the teeth. These bacteria then fill up the canals and attack the pulp, irritating it. The pulp then becomes inflamed, causing significant pain. Untreated infections worsen, and bacteria can eventually enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body.
What is a Root Canal?
When an infection occurs, the only way to treat it is with a root canal. To remove the infection, the damaged pulp and nerves need to be removed along with the bacteria. After the pulp is removed, the interior of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected, and finally topped with a dental crown. The crown provides the treated tooth with strength and protects it from developing a new infection.
What are the Symptoms of an Infection?
An infection inside the tooth can present with several different symptoms.
- Severe tooth pain.
- Pain or sensitivity that lingers after the irritant is gone.
- Swelling of the face near the affected tooth.
- A dental abscess. An abscess is the most telling sign of an infection. It is a sac that forms to contain the bacteria and prevent it from spreading. Untreated, abscesses continue to grow. They may even burst, allowing bacteria to spread into the bloodstream.
Diagnosing and Treating an Infected Tooth
If you notice any signs or symptoms of an infection, it is important to seek treatment immediately. To diagnose, or rule out an infection, we conduct a comprehensive oral exam. We check the condition of your teeth and gums, checking for signs of damage, decay, and infections. We also take dental X-rays, which allow us to check the condition of your mouth below the gum line. With these images, we can spot any damage to the roots of your teeth, dental abscesses and more. If an infection is diagnosed, we can then formulate your treatment plan.
A root canal begins with a local anesthetic. If necessary, sedation can also be provided. A small access point is drilled into the top of the tooth. We then use specialized tools to remove the pulp and nerve, and then shape and clean the canals. After the interior of the tooth is disinfected, the tooth is filled with a material called gutta percha. Finally, the tooth is prepared for, and topped with, a dental crown.
If you suspect an infection inside your tooth, it is essential that you seek treatment right away. To schedule your consultation, call us at (480) 545-8700.