People have varying levels of comfort with dental procedures, but one treatment causes anxiety for most everyone – root canals. Fortunately, root canal causes can be prevented quite easily with routine dental appointments and good oral hygiene. Even with these good practices, though, there may come a time when you will need a root canal.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal procedure is necessary when a tooth is severely decayed or infected. The purpose of a root canal is to protect the tooth and prevent extraction and bone loss. Pulp and nerve tissue are removed, and the opening in the tooth is sealed shut. Doing this prevents any bacteria from getting inside the tooth. Nerves inside teeth are only necessary for sensing heat and cold, so you still have use of the tooth after your root canal.
What Causes a Root Canal?
Over time, root canal causes damage the tooth to the point of decay and infection. Most causes of root canal procedures are preventable. Properly oral hygiene is paramount, and this includes at-home practices and seeing your dentist. Should you develop issues, such as cavities or gum disease, these should be treated right away to prevent complications that require a root canal. Watch for signs of oral health issues, such as bleeding gums, inflammation, tooth pain, aching, sharp pains when chewing, and loose teeth.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Brushing and flossing are the two best ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy, and these practices, if you do that properly, you can prevent root canal. The goal of brushing and flossing is to remove bacteria and food particles that lead to plaque build-up and infiltrate the gums. When bacteria penetrate below the gum line, it destroys bone tissue that leads to periodontal disease and tooth loss. Any bacteria that remains on the surface of the tooth breaks down the enamel to form cavities. Left untreated, cavities deepen inside the tooth, and this is one of the most common root canal causes.
Missing or Avoiding Routine Dental Visits
For people who underestimate the value of seeing the dentist, are comfortable with dental procedures, or live hectic lives, root canal causes stem from missing or avoiding the routine care of a dental professional. During the appointments, the dentist examines your teeth and gums, looking for signs of gum disease, periodontal disease, cavities, and other issues. As part of the appointment, a hygienist performs a professional cleaning to remove plaque build up and look for pockets where bacteria are below the gum line. Both of these services are vital, even if you brush and floss properly. Having a second set of eyes that are trained to notice even subtle signs of root canal causes is incredibly valuable for preventing damage to your teeth.
Cavities and Root Canal Causes
Cavities are the most common dental health issues in children and adults. These small holes in the enamel are created by bacteria. Fillings are recommended to clean out the opening and prevent additional decay. If a cavity is left untreated or if the filling fails, this creates ideal circumstances for root canal. When a cavity requires root canal, the procedure is more extensive because the tooth has more damage compared to a cavity. Think of root canals as stemming from the same problem as a cavity, yet the damage affects a larger portion of the tooth. Cavities are easily prevented with brushing and flossing. Your dentist can help you locate areas where you need to concentrate more when cleaning your teeth at home.
Also known as gingivitis and periodontal disease, gum disease is a term that describes an oral health condition in which bacteria is present below the gum line. This causes may issues of concern. The soft tissue that surrounds the tooth and holds it securely in place is destroyed by the bacteria, and this allows more bacteria to get deeper into the gum. Eventually the bacteria reach the bone that secures your tooth. Over time, the bone is broken down, and the tooth comes loose from the socket. Bacteria spreads to surrounding soft tissues and bone which may affect neighboring teeth. If gum disease is left untreated for prolonged periods, a person can loose one or more teeth.
Gum disease begins with inflammation of the gums, and you may notice blood when you brush or floss. This is the best time to start treatment. As gum disease progresses, periodontal disease sets in, and this describes the point where bone loss occurs. Root canal problems also develop as a result of gum disease. The bacteria break down the enamel to form a small opening that allows bacteria inside the pulp of the tooth. Infection sets in and may escape through openings in the root of the tooth and into the bone and soft tissue. Gum disease can be prevented with good oral hygiene and routine visits with your dentist and hygienist.
Holistic Approach to Root Canal
Root canal procedures, although common, are not necessarily effective from a long-term perspective. Removing all of the infected pulp from a tooth is challenging. Typically, the goal is to remove the majority of the infection, assuming that your immune system will manage what remains. This can be a detrimental approach from a holistic standpoint. The effects of bacteria and infection in the oral cavity have long been linked to issues in other areas of the body, such as the digestive and cardiovascular system. Additionally, oral health issues have been linked to emotional health, such as depression and lower quality of life.
Dr. Vafa is a holistic dentist in Los Angeles and recommends a holistic approach to root canal issues as an alternative treatment to traditional techniques. Extracting the tooth is the only way to completely remove the pulp and infection. The area can be treated to destroy bacteria in the surrounding tissues, and the tooth replaced with a high-quality implant. Although extractions may seem extreme, the long-term benefits are undeniable. You no longer have to worry about the infection returning nor plan for additional root canal procedures in the future.