We hear this often when we find a tooth that has become infected. Sometimes, people will say the tooth was sensitive, but now doesn’t bother them anymore. And, there are times where the tooth has never bothered the person. An infection at the base of the tooth is called an apical periodontitis. We diagnose this by X-Ray, one of the reasons we update X-Rays. The tooth can be sensitive, may be broken down, may be cracked, etc., but the tooth can also not be sensitive.
So, back to the question I posed in the heading… If no pain, then why do you need the root canal? The reason is once the tooth is infected, the bacteria have caused damage to the nerve and are now invading the space around the outside of your tooth. Once the bacteria start causing damage to the surrounding bone and ligament that holds the tooth, this needs to be treated to remove the infection before it spreads and becomes worse. Antibiotics will help, short-term, if there is pain sensitivity. The antibiotics will begin to allow your body to fight the infection, but, if the tooth isn’t treated to remove the infected nerve and get the bacteria out of the tooth, the infection will come back once the antibiotics are done. The treatment can be a root canal, where the remaining infected nerve is removed, the area is disinfected and cleaned, and a sterile filling is placed. This procedure removes the infected nerve, cleanses the inside of the tooth to remove the bacteria. By doing this, your body can usually remove the bacteria that has started affecting the bone and surrounding areas, enabling you to keep your tooth. The other treatment option is to extract the tooth and allow the space to heal. But, this leaves a “hole” where the tooth used to be.
So, a root canal is a great procedure we are able to offer to rid the tooth of the infection while keeping the tooth. Now, once the root canal is completed, we do recommend a crown for that tooth. The tooth, without a nerve, will become more brittle over time, so, for long-term strength and stability, we always recommend a crown. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact Bettina to schedule a consultation so we can discuss what is happening and what needs to be done.
Call 978-401-9081 to find out more information!
Brian C McDowell D.D.S. LVIF