Root Canal Infection: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

How Does Root Canal Treatment Work?

Root canal treatment is a very common dental procedure for getting rid of bacteria from the root canal. It can also prevent reinfection and conserve the natural tooth. How does it work? When you undergo this treatment, the infected or inflamed soft tissue is removed. The soft tissue is known as the pulp. It’s located under the white enamel and the calcified tissue called dentin. It plays an important role in the development of your tooth. 

However, a fully developed tooth can function without the pulp since it’s maintained by the surrounding tissues. After the pulp is removed, the inside of the tooth is methodically cleaned, disinfected, filled, and then finally sealed. Essentially, it’s pretty much the same as a regular filling. And it’s also pain-free. If you’re in need of a root canal treatment or want more information on the procedure, check our website

what causes root canals

What Is the Cause of Root Canal Infections?

What is the reason root canal infections happen in the first place? Well, there are quite a few potential culprits. 

For example, it might have to do with the shape of your canals. They might be too narrow and therefore impossible to be entirely disinfected. Sometimes, there are additional canals that can be a hiding spot for bacteria waiting to reinfect. However, it’s not just the canals that can be a problem.

On some occasions, a tooth can get a new cavity after the original treatment, which can cause a reinfection. Delaying the placement of a crown after the treatment can also cause an issue since it may grant bacteria access to your tooth. 

What Are the Symptoms of Root Canal Infection?

While root canal infections are relatively rare, they can still occur. Here are the common signs that might indicate a problem:

  • Pain is the most noticeable sign of root canal infection. It can range from mild to severe, and it intensifies when you interact with the infected area, for example, by biting or putting pressure on the tooth. Exposing the affected tooth to extremely hot or cold temperatures can also cause pain and discomfort. 
  • Bad breath is another recognizable symptom. If you have a root canal infection, bad breath won’t go away, no matter how much you brush your teeth. It’s because the bacteria residing in the infected tissue cause a bad smell. 
  • Swollen tissue near the affected tooth may also be a reason to take a trip to the dentist. The tissue in question can also become really red and have a burning sensation. Swelling can also affect your gums and, in rarer cases, your face and neck. 
  • If your teeth are becoming discolored, a root canal infection may be at fault. The color of the tooth can become yellow or brown if the pulp tissue becomes infected.
  • A dental abscess is another common symptom, and it can cause bad breath, as well as discomfort. It’s a byproduct of a congregation of pulp created by the bacteria and the decomposing pulp material. It’s relatively easy to spot since it appears in the form of a red bump on the gum around your tooth. 
  • You might feel chest pains or chills. Or even a fever. That’s because root canal infections can spread and can lead to bacterial infections. This can cause a sore throat or, in some cases, pneumonia.

How Does Root Canal Infection Spread to Other Areas?

An infected root canal can cause other areas to get infected as well, as it’s usually the case with an infection. It spreads to the neighboring tissues in the mouth, such as other teeth and gums. It can, of course, cause further problems if not treated properly. 

An untreated root canal infection can make its way to your cheeks, face, jaw, and even your bloodstream. An infected bloodstream can be highly dangerous, as it can lead to sepsis. So, make sure to contact your dentist as soon as possible if any signs of infection pop up. 

How to Relieve the Pain of Root Canal Infection?

The pain that comes with root canal infection can be mild, but it can also become a real problem. Something you can do, for temporary relief, is to avoid putting pressure on the tooth. Things like chewing, biting, as well as eating extremely cold or hot foods can all irritate your tooth even more. 

However, the only real solution is to pay your dentist a visit. While your infection may not be a problem at first, it can get worse without proper treatment. Avoiding treatment can cause the infection to spread and leave you with swollen and painful gums. You might even be dealing with an abscessed tooth, which requires immediate treatment.

How to Prevent Root Canal Infections?

As they say, prevention is better than cure. So how do you go about preventing root canal infections? 

  • You can start by practicing good dental hygiene. That includes brushing and flossing at least two times a day. Taking proper care of your teeth on a regular basis can prevent root canal infection, as well as many other dental problems.
  • Getting dental cleanings a few times a year is also crucial since it’s a way to spot an infection early or prevent one entirely. 
  • Staying hydrated is important for many reasons, such as your blood pressure, digestion, nutrition, and so on. But drinking water can also help with removing bacteria and food particles from your mouth. So, to combat infection, make sure to drink water while eating and then rinse your mouth with it afterward. 
  • Proper nutrition is key to fighting many ailments. Root canal infections are one of those ailments. Limiting your sugary foods, like soda and sweets, can do a lot of good for your dental health. 
  • Another important thing is giving your teeth proper care after a root canal procedure. Using an antiseptic mouthwash for the first few days after the treatment is a great way to keep the bacteria away. You should also schedule another appointment with your dentist soon after. Getting a permanent restoration as soon as possible is critical to keeping your root canal bacteria-free. 

And, in case you do suspect signs of infection, contact your dentist right away. Catching the infection early on can prevent it from spreading across other areas. 

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