Tooth infections occur when cavities become large enough for bacteria to grow inside the pulp chamber, which houses the tooth’s nerve. A healthy pulp chamber has a protective outer layer that protects it from bacteria and from the stress of chewing. If a cavity penetrates the protective layer, then bacteria can invade the chamber, harming the tooth and perhaps traveling to other parts of the body. The body will then react to the bacteria by forming an abscess, a painful infection. The abscess will last until its source is removed. Treatment with antibiotics alone will not clear an infection, although it may temporarily lessen the pain. The abscess must be treated by root canal therapy or by tooth extraction.
Root canal therapy is the process of cleaning a tooth’s roots and interior chamber. After the infected tissue has been removed, the tooth is then sterilized and sealed. After root canal therapy, most teeth will require a crown to effectively restore the decayed tooth structure. The procedure is as comfortable as that for filling a tooth, due to modernization of the process. Root canal therapy can also be used to repair fractured teeth, teeth with nerve death (necrosis) or teeth with genetic disorders.
Tooth extraction is a last resort, which is used when a tooth cannot be restored. The time for post-operative healing can vary. It is critical that patients follow our post-operative care instructions to ensure proper healing. After the jaw has healed, there are many options for the replacement of the missing tooth.