A root canal infection occurs when the bacteria penetrates a severely rotten tooth or a tooth damaged by blunt force trauma. Your teeth are alive and have pulp in the center that is made up of connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. These pulp cells play a vital role in the vitality and the strength of the tooth. The nerves are interconnected to large nerve bundles that work together to help you feel pressure and sensations from hot or cold.
When the roots become infected, the bacteria will turn the root canals a dark brown color. An infected tooth may spread the discoloration and darken the color of the tooth. The gums may become red, swollen, and inflamed in the area immediately surrounding the infected tooth. One sign of infection is chronic bad breath, otherwise known as halitosis. You can test your own breath by swabbing your finger over the back of your tongue and smelling it.
You may feel irritation from the tooth biting at the gums and a sharp pain when you apply pressure or eat. You may also feel an intense electric shock type of pain when you consume hot or cold consumables. While it is common to have sensitivities to hot or cold without an infection, the infection will cause a prolonged sensitivity sensation that continues well after the reagent is removed.
If the root canal infection is not promptly treated, it can lead to an abscessed tooth. An abscess is a pocket of pus inside the tooth from the pulp deteriorating and becoming the breeding ground for bacteria. When this happens, the acidic bacteria and pressure can damage bones at the tip of the tooth, burst out the side of the tooth into the gums, or cause swelling in the neck, face, or head.
How is a Root Canal Infection Treated?
An endodontic procedure will be necessary to save the enamel shell of the tooth with a pulpectomy follow by a more thorough cleaning that is often referred to as a root canal. In this procedure, the rotting pulp inside the tooth has to be cleaned out from the inside. This requires drilling a large hole into the center of the tooth. The dentist then uses canal files in progressively larger diameters to clean the hollow passages of the roots throughout the full length. At times, they will flush the tooth with sodium hypochlorite or water to remove the damaged tissue. After all the decaying debris is removed, the tooth is sealed with filling material and prepared for a porcelain false tooth cap called a crown to be cemented onto the remaining tooth material.
A root canal and crown can work as a solid replacement for a decade or more. After that, you may opt for a titanium dental implant. You can avert a bone graft if you replace it immediately after the crown fails and retain good bone density. The procedure is usually done with localized anesthesia even though the nerve is already dead because the bone and surrounding tissue will cause pain when aggravated.
Free Dental Consultation and 2nd opinion at Smile Angels of Beverly Hills
If you suspect that you may need a root canal, it is always better to get a second opinion and look at the X-Rays. In some cases, the tooth is just sensitive and requires treatment with medicated toothpaste to reduce sensitivity and a filling or restoration.