Rooting Out Dental Decay: Can Root Canal Treatment Save Teeth?

Tooth decay usually doesn't go away by itself. The decay progresses until it reaches the dental pulp, at which point sufferers begin to experience severe toothache and sensitivity. While an infected dental pulp will eventually die, the pain doesn't end there. The infection may then go on to infect the tissues surrounding a tooth, including the jawbone. A serious tooth infection can lead to tooth loss.

Although root canals sound painful, the pain of a dental infection can be much worse than a typical root procedure. In fact, if performed at the right time, a root canal can save an infected tooth.

Badly infected teeth need to be extracted

When a toothache begins, this means that the dental decay in the tooth has opened the way for bacteria to invade the interior of the tooth. The toothache means that the sensitive dental pulp, which is a bundle of nerves and blood vessels, is dying. And although the pain might subside for a while once the dental pulp dies, that doesn't mean the infection will fade away.

The infection may spread into the jawbone and the gum tissue surrounding an infected tooth. At that point, many dentists recommend extraction to get the infection under control. Once the tooth is extracted, a dentist can then thoroughly clean the area and remove all the infected material.

A root canal can stop a tooth infection from turning serious if it is performed early. By removing the infected material from inside a tooth, along with bacteria, a dentist can stop a tooth infection from spreading.   

Badly infected teeth can fall out

Without treatment, a tooth infection can spread down through the root tip of an infected tooth to the surrounding tissues. This is when facial swelling and jaw pain become symptoms. As the infection destroys the supporting tissues around the tooth, the infected tooth may loosen and fall out.

A root canal can stop a dental infection from spreading to the surrounding tissues. The patient may then avoid tooth loss.

Dental crown placement usually follows root canal treatment

In general, once a dentist has cleaned and disinfected a tooth, they will place a dental crown over it. Before they do that, though, they need to reduce the size of the tooth to make room for a dental crown. Together, the crown and the remaining tooth structure will provide protection from further infections and allow the patient to eat and speak comfortably.

Tooth loss often follows a severe tooth infection. But when root canal treatment is given early on in an infection, an infected tooth can be saved.