Our teeth are nourished through their roots. Inside each tooth root is a canal containing dental pulp – nerves, veins, arteries, and connective tissue. Untreated dental decay can break through the tooth’s enamel and spread into the pulp. When it reaches the tooth’s nerve, it will cause a painful toothache. This is your body’s way of telling you that bacteria are attacking the root of your tooth and something needs to be done.
Sometimes, a toothache seems to go away on its own. However, this is because the nerve has died from the infection. Bacteria and their acid excretions are still damaging the tooth, its root, and the surrounding gum tissue. Ignoring a toothache may lead to more complicated dental issues. Endodontic therapy, commonly called a root canal, may be needed to save the tooth.
How Decay Can Destroy a Tooth
Bacterial excretions are acid. Anything acidic wears holes in tooth enamel – that is why dentists warn people away from excessive soda pop drinking and sugary foods; these are acidic substances. It is also why daily brushing and flossing are so important. They remove the acidic debris left by multiplying bacteria, and the acidic remains of food.
Whenever a tiny tooth cavity is created by acid in the mouth, bacteria can spread into it and further reproduce themselves, leaving more acidic debris in the mouth, which will create more little cavities. This is the vicious cycle of gum disease, which starts with gingivitis.
A tooth injury such as a crack or chip can have the same bad effect of providing a new home for bacteria.
When dental hygiene is neglected, decay invades the tooth’s interior – the pulp chamber inside the tooth crown and root canals inside the tooth roots. At the same time it spreads into the gums near the tooth and can even penetrate to the jawbone. This is periodontitis, full-blown gum disease. Infected teeth will loosen and fall out unless something is done.
Understanding Endodontic Therapy
Symptoms of a damaged tooth root include gum swelling, pain, gum bleeding and tooth loosening. Root canal therapy, if performed in time, can save your tooth and prevent further complications.
Endodontic therapy focuses on the interior of the tooth. It removes bacteria and their debris, and the infected tooth pulp from within the tooth’s canals. When the tooth is entirely clean, Dr. Ted Murray, Dr. Kristen Berning, or Dr. Alexia Oetken will fill the empty root canal with a special type of dental filler to preserve as much tooth structure as possible. Then they will place a porcelain crown on the tooth stub, and this prolongs the tooth’s life.
Endodontics can only be performed properly by dentists who have received specific training. The endodontics team at Exceptional Dentistry, led by LVI-trained Dr. Murray, is highly qualified to assess and correct severe tooth decay and infection. You can trust Exceptional Dentistry to handle routine and complex endodontic issues with expert preparation and all-encompassing concern for your health and safety.
Exceptional Dentistry, serving Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Davenport, Iowa, can rejuvenate your smile and restore your dental health with the latest endodontic and cosmetic dentistry procedures. Please call 563-556-2711 or email us to schedule your consultation.