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Root Canal Infection and the Risk of Tooth Loss

By Bruce Wilderman on May 31, 2016

A cross section of a tooth Toothaches can interfere with everyday life, making it difficult to focus and impossible to enjoy eating. When a toothache becomes severe, it's often an indication of a root canal infection and should be treated as soon as possible. Root canal infections are dangerous to oral health, causing dental damage and ultimately tooth loss. Dr. Bruce Wilderman offers a variety of restorative dentistry treatments to repair dental damage, alleviate dental pain, and create a beautiful, healthy smile. To discuss your treatment options for root canal infection and tooth loss, schedule a consultation at Dr. Wilderman's Philadelphia, PA office.

What Is a Root Canal Infection?

Tooth decay, dental trauma, or large dental fillings can allow bacteria to enter the pulp chamber of a tooth. As bacteria reach the inner structures of the tooth, the tissues within the tooth may become infected. This is known as a root canal infection.

How Do Root Canal Infections Cause Tooth Loss?

Root canal infections directly impact the tooth's nerve and pulp tissue, making them extremely painful. Root canal infections can also damage the blood vessels that nourish the teeth, causing a tooth to die. If left untreated, root canal infections can lead to severe dental damage, including tooth decay and tooth loss. Teeth damaged by root canal infections may become so damaged that they fall out on their own. In other cases, extraction may be necessary to restore oral health and treat the symptoms associated with root canal infections, including:

  • Abscesses: Abscesses can develop around the tooth's roots as a result of severe root canal infections. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket caused by bacteria and decayed pulp and nerve tissue.
  • Bone loss: Spreading root canal infections can lead to a loss of bone tissue around the roots of the teeth. As the jawbone supporting the teeth dissolves, the teeth are left vulnerable to falling out.
  • Swelling: Swelling commonly occurs with root canal infections. Swelling is most often seen in the face, neck, around the jaws, or cheeks and will not subside until the root canal infection is treated.

Treating Root Canal Infections

Painful root canal infections may be treated with either root canal therapy or tooth extraction. Root canal therapy is preferred because it saves the tooth from extraction. Root canal therapy includes the physical removal of the damaged nerve and pulp tissue from the pulp chamber. Once removed, the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and sealed with a dental filling or, more commonly, with a dental crown. Root canal therapy may not be an option if the tooth is too severely damaged. In this case, the tooth may require extraction followed by a restorative treatment to replace the missing tooth.

Tips to Prevent Root Canal Infections and Tooth Loss

Preventing root canal infections and tooth loss begins with practicing good oral hygiene habits everyday. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day greatly reduces the risk of tooth decay and root canal infections, protecting the smile from tooth loss and other oral health problems. In addition to practicing good oral hygiene at home, seeing your dentist every six months for a check-up and cleaning can further reduce the risk of root canal infections.

Schedule a Consultation

If you believe you may have a root canal infection, or would like more information about your treatment options, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Wilderman.

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