I recently returned from training in Las Vegas about root canal therapy. I am sure that no one wants to think about root canals right now but unfortunately, it is a part of dental treatment. Fortunately, it gives dentists an option to save teeth that would otherwise need to be extracted. Root canal therapy enables teeth to give years of service while helping to avoid the consequences of tooth removal.
What Causes A Need For Root Canal Therapy?
A tooth may need a root canal for various reasons. The two most common are trauma and bacterial infection. Trauma generally causes the blood supply to the tooth to be severed where a bacterial infection usually comes from a cavity loaded with bacteria. In both cases, the nerve will begin to die, leaving tissue to abscess and swell.
I Need A Root Canal, Should I Wait?
I have heard people say that they need a root canal but they are waiting to have it done. I would certainly recommend that it get treated right away for a few reasons. Dental infections can cause damage to the bone surrounding teeth without any pain. Like I have said before, you can have an illness and not even know it, until it gets bad enough to become symptomatic. Teeth can begin to hurt for a short period of time and then it just goes away. This can mean that the nerve became inflamed (painful) and then died (no pain or less painful). Over time, the nerve tissue will begin to abscess, creating a cyst around the root of the tooth. The infected tissue tries to find a way to release pressure created by the growing infection. In this process, bone that supports teeth is eroded away until a “bubble” of infection is present on the gum. Even when pressure is released, bone can be continually eroded by the infectious cyst causing loose teeth.
This week a patient came in with abscesses around her two front teeth (above xray). The infection from the two front teeth became large enough to travel, at the root level, to the adjacent tooth. Now, that tooth also needs root canal therapy even though it has no cavity. The added cost of an additional root canal could have been avoided if the original teeth were treated promptly.
Should I Just Pull The Tooth?
Tooth extraction definitely has its place in dental treatment. The cost for tooth removal is much less than root canal therapy. However, removing a tooth can bring negative consequences such as: bone loss, shifting of adjacent and opposing teeth, and increased wear and tear on remaining teeth.
If tooth extraction is inevitable, I would certainly recommend a procedure to maintain as much bone as possible. It usually involves placement of a membrane at the time of the extraction. Essentially, the membrane doesn’t allow the gum to grow down into the socket. This gives time for the body to form bone that would otherwise have been gum. This procedure will help keep teeth surrounding the extraction site more stable. It also keeps options open for implant placement in the furture. Bone is luxury that dentists strive to maintain. Once it is gone, it can be very expensive to get back.
If you have any questions regarding root canals or tooth extraction, send me an email at [email protected] or give us a call at 801-748-1399.