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Root Canal Infection – Causes, Symptoms, & Treatments

When a root canal infection sets in, it poses a serious risk to the health and structure of your tooth. A root canal infection can result in a number of dental problems and discomfort inside your mouth. If one or more of your tooth roots become infected, it is critical that you seek root canal treatment as soon as possible.

Read on to learn more about a root canal infection. If you do have a root canal infection, learn to recognise the signs so you can receive prompt attention and your dentist can remove the infection through a root canal treatment.


What Is a Root Canal Infection?

A root canal infection can start when your teeth are severely decayed or experience trauma. This damage allows harmful bacteria to seep into the roots of your tooth and reach the tissue inside called pulp.

The pulp is made up of sensitive tissues and nerves. The pulp is what provides nourishment to the tooth when it is growing and erupting from your gums. While the pulp stops serving its purpose when your teeth are fully grown, there is rarely any reason to remove it unless it becomes infected.

root canal treatment root canal infection no gaps dental sydneyWhen the pulp becomes infected, the bacteria may spread to other areas of the mouth.

The bacteria begin to spread rapidly after infecting the pulp and can lead to abscesses, gum infections, and discomfort throughout the jaw, so it is in your best interest to seek an assessment and if necessary undergo a root canal treatment to save your tooth from extraction.

You may begin to notice that you have a root canal infection if you are experiencing discomfort while biting down or if your teeth are unusually sensitive to extreme hot or cold temperatures.

Root canal infections also cause the infected tooth to darken and lose its natural sheen. The tooth may appear gray and dull. If an infection is allowed to persist without intervention, the tooth will eventually turn black.


Symptoms of Root Canal Infections

The discomfort you may experience from the root canal infection can be very severe. The discomfort increases as the infection progresses and spreads to different parts of the mouth and possibly other teeth and your jawbone.

It is very common for gums to become irritated and swollen as a result of a root canal infection. The swelling is generally only surrounding the infected tooth, but if the infection spreads, the inflammation in the gums can spread as well.

Dental abscesses are perhaps the most uncomfortable of the symptoms that can arise when dealing with a root canal infection. A dental abscess is a combination of dead pulp and bacterial elements that build at the tip of your tooth root underneath the gums. The infected pulp and bacteria cause pockets of pus and fluid to form, resulting in the dental abscess. The dental abscess appears like a large sore or pimple on your gums.

Dental abscesses can be very tender. They can also begin to leak foul-smelling and tasting liquid. Dental abscesses contribute to bad breath that isn’t easily masked. Dental abscesses can be drained if necessary, as a part of root canal treatment. 


Causes of Root Canal Infections

There are many reasons a tooth can become infected. When a tooth is not properly cleaned and cared for it begins to break down and decay, allowing bacteria to seep into the root of the tooth infecting the pulp.

However, even if you diligently take care of your teeth, they can still become infected. Damages that occur from everyday incidents like falls or hard objects connecting with your tooth can cause the tooth to crack. Teeth grinding can cause fissures and cracks in a tooth expose the pulp to bacteria that were previously unable to penetrate the outer layers of the tooth, the enamel, and dentin.

Furthermore, an infection can result from damage to the pulp itself. A significant enough impact can damage the pulp even if there are no cracks or chips in your teeth. If the pulp is damaged, then the nerves inside it can die. This results in decay and the creation of bacteria, which in turn leads to infection.


Root Canal Treatment

Root canal infections are serious dental maladies that require the pulp inside the tooth to be removed completely. An adult tooth can be completely healthy and subsist without the pulp.

Before the procedure is performed, your dentist takes initial X-rays of the infected tooth. They will then administer local anaesthesia to ensure your comfort throughout the procedure.  At No Gap Dental, we also offer our patients sedation dentistry using nitrous oxide gas. Nitrous oxide gas helps patients relax and respond to instructions while remaining conscious. For anxious patients, sedation dentistry may be an excellent option for your root canal treatment.

A dam is placed in your mouth to keep the area dry and free from saliva. A hole is made in the top of the tooth so your dentist can access the root so your dentist can clean the infected pulp out of your tooth using root canal files. Excess tooth debris is removed using water or sodium hypochlorite.

Your root canals are then sealed using special dental cement. It is common for a temporary filling to be placed until your next appointment for your permanent filling. Usually, after another visit, your dentist will install the permanent biocompatible filling into the root canals called gutta-percha and seal the tooth. If there is enough structural damage to the tooth, you will have follow up appointments to have a dental crown fitted to restore the structure, integrity, appearance, and function of the tooth.

Root canals have a high success rate.


Final Thoughts

If you notice symptoms of a root canal infection visit your dentist immediately and book a root canal treatment. At No Gaps Dental, we have years of experience and success performing root canal procedures. If you require a root canal treatment visit us online today or call us on (02) 8007 6727.

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