What is Below the Enamel?When you look at your teeth in the mirror, all you see is the hard, protective enamel. There is much more to your teeth than just this layer. Below the enamel lies the dentin. This layer is also very hard, though not as hard as your enamel, and contains a network of hollow canals that travel to the root of the tooth. Below the dentin is a chamber. Inside this chamber is the pulp, or soft tissue that contains nerves and blood vessels.
How an Infection OccursWhile the outer layer of your teeth is incredibly hard, it can still be damaged or develop decay. When the damage is severe enough, it can go through the enamel and expose the inner layers of the affected tooth. Should this happen, a direct path is created that allows bacteria inside. Once in the tooth, the bacteria begin to multiply and irritate the pulp, causing inflammation and pain. Over time, the infection only continues to grow worse as the bacteria continue to multiply. They can even spill out through the root of the tooth into the jawbone, causing an abscess to form. This sac forms around the bacteria in an attempt to contain it. Should the abscess grow too large, it could rupture, which could then let bacteria into the bloodstream, where they can travel throughout the body causing severe harm.
Signs of an Infected ToothA painful toothache is often a major indication that there is an infection present. You may also notice other symptoms as well. Common symptoms that point toward an infection include
|•||Facial and jaw swelling near the infected tooth.
|•||A chronic bad taste in your mouth that just will not go away.
|•||Pain and sensitivity that lingers.
|•||Bone loss in the jaw.
|•||A dental abscess.|
Diagnosing an InfectionAt the first sign of an infected tooth, call the office immediately to set up an appointment. To diagnose the infection, we first perform a thorough oral exam. We visually inspect your mouth, looking for signs of tooth damage and swollen gum tissue. A dental X-ray is also taken, which shows us the areas of your mouth below the gums, allowing us to spot tooth damage, bone loss, and abscesses. Should an infected be detected, a treatment plan is then created.
Restoring Your Oral Health with Root Canal TherapyRoot canal therapy is done under local anesthetic. Sedation may be provided for you to help you remain calm and relaxed during treatment. The procedure begins with a small access hole drilled into the top of the tooth. Next, small tools are used to remove the infected pulp and nerve of the tooth. The canals are shaped, and the entire inside of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected. A filling material called gutta percha is placed inside the empty space to seal the canals. Finally, the tooth is provided with a dental crown to restore strength and prevent new infections from occurring.
If you notice any symptoms of an infection in your tooth, it is crucial that you seek treatment immediately. With root canal therapy, we can eliminate the infection, restoring your oral health while preserving the tooth in its socket. For more information, and to schedule your appointment, call Jillian Prather Family Dentistry at (918) 401-9933 today.