Most infections are treated simply. If you have a sinus infection, an ear infection, or an infected cut, it’s usually just a matter of taking some antibiotics. If that works for most infections, why do we treat infected teeth with the complex procedure known as a root canal?
Teeth Are Unique
Unlike most of your body, your teeth can’t just heal. The outer layer of your teeth, the enamel, is 96% mineral. There’s very little organic matter in it. Although it can be remineralized a little bit by your saliva, for the most part it just can’t be repaired by your body. And we can’t grow a replacement, either.
So when we treat an infected tooth, we have to do it in a way that repairs the tooth and, hopefully, makes it fully functional again. And that’s what root canals do–most root canaled teeth perform “good as new” for more than ten years. It’s as good as getting a dental implant!
Your Mouth Is Swarming with Bacteria
Another reason why we have to treat an infected tooth more seriously is that your mouth is actually full of bacteria. This means that it’s not enough to just clean out the tooth and kill the bacteria, we have to do something to seal the tooth against recurring infections.
That’s what the dental crown is for–it not only helps the tooth function and gives it an attractive new exterior, it also seals the tooth against new bacteria getting in.
Infections Can Spread from Teeth
When your teeth become infected, they serve as a kind of staging point that bacteria can use to spread elsewhere in the body. And the bacteria that infect your teeth tend to be aggressive and will take advantage of the opportunity. They can travel through your jawbone and into neighboring teeth, threatening all your teeth.
But most significantly, infections can spread from your tooth into your sinuses and then into your brain, which can have serious health consequences. Many people die from this type of infection, so we use a treatment that is proven to stop the infection and prevent it from recurring, a root canal.