Getting an Infection in Your Tooth
When you look at your teeth, you only see the outermost, or enamel, layer. This strong, mineralized layer protects more layers inside. Under the enamel, there is the dentin, which houses a network of hollow tunnels that lead to the roots of the tooth. There is also the pulp chamber, which houses the soft tissue called pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels and nerves. While the enamel is strong, it can still experience decay or physical damage. If the damage extends past the enamel, oral bacteria are provided with a direct path to the inner layers of your teeth. The bacteria then make themselves at home in the tunnels of the dentin and begin attacking the pulp. The pulp then becomes irritated, inflamed, and painful.
When an infection develops, the only way to treat the tooth is with a root canal. A root canal is a treatment that involves removing the damaged pulp and disinfecting the interior of the tooth before sealing it with a protective crown.
Symptoms of an Infection Inside Your Tooth
There are several symptoms that can point toward an infection inside your tooth:
Diagnosing an Infection
Diagnosing an infection requires an oral examination. We first look at your teeth and gums, checking for signs of damage, decay, and swollen gums. Along with a visual inspection, we also take x-rays of your mouth. These images will allow us to see below the gums, where we can spot damage to the roots of the teeth, damage to the jawbone, bone loss, and abscesses. Once we diagnose the infection, your x-rays will then enable us to formulate an effective, customized treatment plan.
Your Root Canal Treatment
Root canals are typically done under a local anesthetic. Sedation can be provided for those feeling anxious. We will discuss your options during your initial consultation. Once the anesthetic has taken effect, we begin the procedure by drilling a small hole into the top of the infected tooth. We then use small tools to remove the infected pulp and shape the canals. The interior of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected. We then fill the empty space with a special material known as gutta-percha. This material seals the canals, and the interior of the tooth, aiding in the prevention of new bacterial invasion. Finally, the tooth is provided with a crown, which helps to restore strength to the tooth and further prevent new infections.
A root canal can restore the health of an infected tooth and also prevent the need for an extraction. For more information, call LakeView Dental Arts today at (865) 248-2199.