The outer layer of your teeth is strong, and provides protection against bacterial invasion and infection. However, sometimes damage, decay, or other issues occur that allow bacteria to sneak into a tooth’s inner layer, which then leads to an infection. An infection inside the tooth is serious. The longer it goes untreated, the more dangerous it becomes. Not only is an infection painful, the bacteria can invade your bloodstream. If this happens, you could be faced with serious health issues like heart disease, stroke, and more. At Timothy H. Kindt, DDS, we can remove an infection inside of your tooth, restoring the health of your mouth, with a root canal.
How Does Bacteria Get in the Tooth?
On the outside, your teeth may seem simple. They are actually quite complex. The exterior of your teeth, the only part you see, is just one layer. This layer, the enamel, is designed to protect the interior of the teeth. The inner layer consists of hollow channels, which lead to the roots of the teeth. The interior also houses the pulp, the soft tissue that also contains blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria can get inside in a number of different ways, including chips, cracks, tooth decay, and gum disease. Once inside the tooth, the bacteria multiply quickly. They attack the soft pulp, causing it to become irritated and inflamed. The only way to remove bacteria from the inside of a tooth is with a root canal.
What is a Root Canal?
Root canals are a procedure performed in order to remove an infection from the interior of a tooth. In order to completely remove the bacteria from the tooth, the soft pulp as well as the nerves must be removed. The interior of the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before the tooth is sealed with a dental to protect it from new bacterial invasion.
Symptoms of an Infection
Infections inside of a tooth often present a variety of different symptoms. One big indication of an infection is tooth pain. This occurs because the pulp is both irritated and inflamed. You may also notice swelling in your face, near the infected tooth. You may experience pain or sensitivity that lingers long after the initial irritant is gone. Bone loss may occur in the jaw. Dental abscesses are also a major indication of an infection. Abscesses occur when bacteria begin to spill out of the root of the infected tooth. A sac forms to contain the bacteria. The longer it goes untreated, the larger it becomes. Abscesses can burst, which can then allow bacteria to spill into the bloodstream.
Diagnosing and Treating a Tooth Infection
Before a root canal can be performed, the infection must be diagnosed. In order to do this, we perform a thorough oral exam. We look inside your mouth for signs of infection and damaged teeth. We also take X-rays, which enable us to see below the gum line. With X-rays, we can check for unseen damage and dental abscesses.
If an infection is present, we move forward with the root canal. The procedure starts with a local anesthetic. If necessary, sedation may also be used. A small hole is drilled into the top of the affected tooth. Small, specialized tools are used to remove the infected pulp. The canals inside the tooth are then shaped and the interior is completely cleaned and disinfected. Gutta percha, a special material, is placed inside the tooth. Finally, the tooth is capped with a dental crown, which helps to seal out bacteria and new infections.
If you suspect that you might have an infection in your tooth, it is important to seek treatment right away. For more information, or to schedule your consultation, contact us at (480) 939-5818 today.