A tooth is a sealed unit that receives a constant blood supply to keep tissues nourished and healthy. So how do teeth become infected? Any event that causes damage to the nerve of the tooth can lead to infection. This damage may be caused by constant clenching and grinding, trauma from a knock or fall, dental decay that has progressed beyond the hard tissues of a tooth (enamel and dentin), or a crack in tooth structure that allows bacteria to enter the tooth and damage soft nerve tissue. There are several ways a tooth can go from being healthy to diseased and infected, and receiving dental attention as soon as possible will help provide more options for treatment.
Does an Infected Tooth Have To Be Extracted?
Many years ago the only solution for controlling tooth pain and infection was to extract the tooth. A couple swigs of whiskey and the tooth was coming out. Thankfully, we’ve advanced in both anesthetic options and solutions for dealing with pain related to tooth infection. Once a dental x-ray has been taken of the tooth, it doesn’t take long to diagnose if an infection is present, as it can often be clearly seen on the image and further confirmed by testing the tooth for vitality. Unfortunately, once the nerve of a tooth becomes infected there is no way to save the life of a tooth as without normal function of the nerve, nutrients, oxygen and blood supply, a tooth is considered non-vital.
Root Canal or Extraction – What’s Best for You?
For some patients the thought of losing a tooth is unacceptable and the option of root canal therapy becomes the best solution to address the infection whilst keeping the tooth. During a root canal, a small hole is made in either the top or back of the tooth for the dentist to gain access. All necrotic and infected tissue is removed and the tooth’s canals (roots) are cleaned out to ensure that no tissue is left. The canals are then sealed and a filling or crown is placed to protect the tooth and restore it to normal function. Crowning a tooth that has been root canaled is recommended as, over time, the tooth will become dry and brittle.
But what if a root canal isn’t a viable option? What other treatment can be provided? Extraction of the tooth is sometimes required when the infection is advanced or when the tooth shows a fracture, which won’t be resolved by a root canal. Extracting a tooth in these situations allows the body to heal from the infection. This is important as an unresolved infection can go on to destroy supporting bone tissue. Because of this, in some cases tooth extraction is the best course of treatment.
Having an infected tooth is no fun, and getting it treated soon rather than later will help you in the long run. If you need more information regarding infected teeth and root canal therapy, contact Bow Trail Dental today at 403.240.1257