Cause of Root Canal:

What Causes the Need for a Root Canal

A lot of people think that bad hygiene is the cause of all teeth problems. This is only one cause of needing a root canal.

The fact is we inherit our teeth from our parents, determining whether we have hard or soft teeth. Soft teeth decay more readily than hard teeth and take extra careful hygiene to prevent decay and other problems.

Decay is the number one cause of root canal. When the decay progresses to the pulp chamber of the tooth, you will usually feel sensitivity when you drink something hot or cold. This doesn’t automatically indicate a need for a root canal. Sometimes just getting the decay removed and cavity filled takes care of the problem.

If the decay has progressed too far, bacteria can get into the pulp of the tooth and cause an infection, better known as an abscess in the bone at the end of the root of your tooth and can be seen on x-ray. There are sometimes no symptoms as nerves can die slowly over time. This is why dentists take x-rays during your routine cleaning appointments.

If left untreated, the abscess can get larger and literally eat away at the bone in your jaw causing pain and swelling. This can result in whole body systemic infection. The only remedy is a root canal or to have the tooth removed.

Another cause is from an old metal filling that will shrink over time and decay starts underneath it undetected until you feel pain or temperature sensitivity.

The second most common cause is tooth fracture caused by clenching or grinding your teeth, eating hard foods or chewing ice. Your tooth can develop hairline type fracture(s) or craze lines that let bacteria into the pulp chamber inflaming the nerve or infecting the tooth. You will not be able to ignore the pain this can cause, especially if you bite something hard and increase the fracture. Chewing on the other side of your mouth is ignoring this problem, not curing it.

However, note that many different people suffer a different degree of pain in their mouths. X-rays of teeth with an abscess that would cause severe pain to most average people have had some patients state that it did not hurt at all!

The last cause is trauma. People that were hit in the mouth as a child, can have the tooth get infected as an adult. Car accidents, work or sports related injuries, and falls that make you snap your teeth together can cause damage to the nerve that may or may not show up right away.

Also, having deep fillings done on the tooth, taking out old metal fillings and replacing them with composite (white) fillings, or having the tooth drilled down for a crown can be traumatic for some nerves inside the teeth and cause the nerve to get inflamed. Inflamed nerves can sometimes settle down after a short period, or be very painful and require root canal therapy or extraction for relief.

For more information, please see The 3 1/2 Year Success of Root Canal Cover-Up by George E. Meinig, DDS, FACD.





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