How Does a Root Canal Become Infected?
A tooth’s root canal, which is a space inside the tooth’s root that contains soft tissue called pulp. Pulp is full of nerve endings, so when this tissue becomes infected and inflamed, it is quite painful for a patient. A root canal may become infected if the patient has a large cavity that has burrowed through the enamel to reach the tooth’s interior structures. A patient may also develop an infection in the root canal if the tooth is damaged or cracked and the pulp is exposed to the oral cavity and the bacteria that reside there. The bacteria may enter the pulp through a crack or other weak spot in the tooth.
Root canal therapy can help to eliminate infection in a root canal. When providing this treatment, a dentist will drill a small whole in the patient’s tooth to access the root canal and remove infected pulp material. The empty root canal chamber is then filled with gutta percha, which is similar to rubber in texture. Root canal therapy does make a tooth more susceptible to breakage, so the treated tooth will also be fitted with a dental crown for additional protection.
Unfortunately, many patients mistakenly believe that root canal therapy is quite painful. This is typically not the case. Your dentist will administer local anesthetic to numb the area prior to the procedure. Patients may also choose sedation for additional comfort. Root canal therapy usually will actually result in pain relief, as it eliminates the painful infection from the tooth.
Root canal therapy is essential for preserving a tooth that has developed an infection in the root canal, so don’t let inaccurate information keep you from obtaining this treatment. Talk to your dentist about any concerns that you have about the treatment so that you can get the facts about this treatment.
Patients should do everything possible to reduce their risk of infection in the root canal, including being diligent about their oral hygiene habits and protecting themselves against injuries that could severely damage their teeth. If you do develop an infection in your root canal, call us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment for treatment.