As everyone is increasingly understanding, the health of our teeth and gums affects our overall physical health, since oral bacteria can travel throughout the body and raise the risk for everything from diabetes to cancer.
A periodontal infection can eventually reach into the jawbone and undermine the support for teeth, which can only be revealed by a digital x-ray. If not caught in time, the teeth will fall out or have to be extracted. Periodontal bacteria can also enter the soft connective tissue of the inner core of a tooth and its roots, known as the pulp. But until the very late stages, periodontal infections may not even be painful.
The bacteria from cavities can also eventually reach the pulp. If caught early, dental caries (as cavities are also known) will not cause pain and can be easily removed and the area filled with protective material. But once the root canals are infected, whether due to caries or a periodontal infection, you will need root canal treatment to remove it.
An endodontist is a specialist in cleaning out infected canals and filling them with a neutral material that will prevent future problems. The popular term “having a root canal” to imply something that is very painful confuses the infection of the canal, which can be very painful, with root canal therapy, which relieves it.
So why bother saving a bad tooth and not just have it extracted and replaced with a dental implant? If a tooth is beyond saving and very loose, it should be extracted and an implant is the ideal replacement to prevent a bite misalignment that will cause further dental problems and even loss of more teeth. But the challenge of keeping your mouth healthy will continue even if you decide to have an implant.
Endodontists have years of training beyond general dentists and the experience, as well as special tools (including a high-powered microscope), to enable them to remove infected root canals and restore teeth to their original health. Teeth are surprisingly complicated structures, with layers of protection and connections to the gums and jawbone. It is usually best to try to preserve them, instead of disrupting even a single key part of your entire oral health system.
Once the pain is gone and your oral health restored, be dedicated about brushing for two minutes after breakfast and dinner and flossing after your final snack before bedtime. If you have a history of regular periodontal infections, be sure to have your dental hygienist provide a regular professional cleaning and ask if your case might require the use of a water pick or small bristle brushes to remove the smallest particles of food.
If you are concerned about whether you might have an infection of the roots of any teeth, call us now to set up an examination before the pain becomes serious. Our team services the areas of Manhattan, New York, Brooklyn, Queens, and more.