Each tooth you use to smile and chew is anchored in your gums and jaw with long roots. When infections or damage affect those roots, the results can be disastrous. Dentists have recommended root canals for these kinds of problems for nearly 100 years now. Unfortunately, many operations performed decades ago were not completed to today’s standards due to a lack of information and research available about tooth health. Seeing a dentist for repairs today could prevent a treated tooth from failing in the near future.
How a Root Canal Works
The root canal procedure is part of a dental specialty known as endodontics. When infections strike the soft pulp inside the tooth and its roots, blood vessels in the tooth can spread the problem around your body.
Root canals involve removing the affected pulp and leaving the hard shell of the original tooth behind. The infection doesn’t spread and you aren’t left with a gap in your smile. The tooth is sterilized and filled with inert material to keep it strong and stable.
Issues That Can Cause a Root Canal to Fail
Dentists in the 1960s and earlier simply didn’t have access to the wealth of knowledge and research now available on this treatment. Older patients who received root canals years ago may be at risk for tooth failure if any of the following issues develop:
- Leaks in the inert filling: The tooth filling must seal fully to keep bacteria out. Loose fillings can even slide out or fracture.
- Leftover pulp: If the dentist misses a bit of the original pulp or skips the removal of a root, infection can set in once again shortly after the procedure.
- Damage during the procedure: The drill used to clean and shape the tooth can easily slip through and create a hole in the side. Damage to the exterior of the tooth usually leads to a root canal failure at some point down the road.
- Fractures: Despite the strength of the filling, a tooth can always shatter or fracture due to excessive force.
- Cavities and decay: Failure to keep the overall mouth clean and healthy often triggers root canal failures. Gum abscesses, cavities and gum disease all threaten the security of any dental work you’ve had done.
- Lost material: Fine files are used to shape and clear out the inside of the tooth. If a tip or flake of metal breaks off inside, it could become trapped and cause issues with the filling later on.
- Hidden roots: Many large molars have extra roots to keep them strongly anchored in the gums and jaw. Dentists can easily miss one or more of the roots, leaving infected material behind.
What Can Be Done?
If you’re experiencing issues with a previously treated tooth, rest assured that a secondary root canal from an experienced professional like Dr. Evanson often solves the problem. Removing a poorly bonded filling can prevent infection before it sets in. It may be necessary to extract teeth that have cracked completely, but seeing Dr. Evanson at the first sign of trouble can prevent this outcome. Don’t let a painful or infected tooth go long without treatment if you want the best shot at keeping it. If Dr. Evanson can’t save the tooth, dental implants are available to keep your smile intact.
In addition to quickly addressing problems with previously treated teeth, we also recommended asking Dr. Evanson to give extra attention to any repaired teeth during your regular cleanings just to ensure they’re still healthy and intact. To schedule a preventative cleaning, or to learn more about having your root canal redone, please contact Evanson DDS online or call us at (720) 409-0008.
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