Root Canal Infection: Common Causes, Symptoms & Treatment 


What Root Canal Infection Is

root canal infection

Much like the rest of our bodies, our teeth are made of layers, too. The hard outer surface of a tooth is called enamel, and the inner sponge-like tissue layer is called dentin. At the center of each and every tooth, there is a collection of soft tissue called the pulp, which is made of nerves and blood vessels.

The pulp is sometimes called the root of the tooth, and like every root, the pulp is providing teeth with the much-needed nutrients for it to grow and stay healthy. So, we get to the question — how does the root canal get infected?

Well, since it’s made of living tissue, the pulp can get infected by disease-causing bacteria. Like every other infection, it’s able to spread to surrounding gums, teeth, and other mouth tissue, and it won’t go away until it’s treated and completely cured.

Most Common Root Canal Infection Causes

One of the most common root canal infections causes is the tooth cavity. Tooth cavities, also called tooth decay, start off small, and if not treated, they will gradually get bigger and bigger.

Most cavities don’t cause pain and won’t get noticed until the problem gets bigger or if the whole tooth starts decaying, which can be avoided by regular dental inspections. Whether your dental hygiene is good or not, your root canal can get infected. The tooth cavity is caused by plaque, which is a mixture of saliva, bacteria, acid, and food residue.

Plaque is the most common reason for root canal infection, it sticks to the tooth and surrounds it, so the acids from plaque slowly erode tooth enamel, as it erodes the risk of decay and infection increases. Since everyone is at risk of cavities, some people have a higher risk of catching them.

Possible risks that can affect teeth:

  • Too much sugary and acidic food and drinks
  • Poor oral hygiene, not flossing or brushing teeth daily (back teeth are more prone to teeth cavity because they’re harder to reach for brushing or flossing)
  • Dry mouth
  • Eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia
  • Not enough fluoride

What we can do to try and reduce the risk of cavity:

  • Brush your teeth more than once every day
  • Use the paste with fluoride
  • Floss at least once daily
  • Eat less sugary and acidic food
  • Reducing snacks during the day

Root Canal Infection Symptoms

There are quite a few symptoms, but one of them is most often root canal infection pain.

Pain, as a sign of root canal infection, is the main reason that pushes us to seek dental care since it brings severe pain. With each bite and pressure on the affected tooth, the root canal infection pain intensifies, which leads to tooth sensitivity when eating hot or cold food and drinks.

Swollen Gums — When the root is infected, pus can collect in the affected area, which can lead to painful, swollen, and tender gums.

Pimple on Gums — It may develop due to pus from an infected tooth that drains through the pimple or boils, causing a putrid taste or smell.

Swollen Jaw — Sometimes, the pus from the affected area doesn’t drain, which leads to a visibly swollen jaw.

Tooth Discoloration — If the inner layer is infected, the tooth may appear brown or yellow, and if the infection reaches the pulp, the color gets changed to dark brown.

Loose Tooth — The infected tooth might feel looser since the pus from the infected pulp can cause the bone that supports the tooth to be softened.

Dental Abscess — This occurs when the bacteria and dying pulp create pockets full of pus around the tooth rot. That, in turn, causes a putrid smell, bad taste, and severe pain.

Chronic bad breath — If there is chronic bad breath despite the daily brushing or flossing, most likely there is an ongoing root canal infection.

Any of the root canal infection symptoms mentioned should make us seek root canal infection treatment.

Root Canal Infection Treatment

To get rid of root canal infection, we have to undergo root canal infection treatment. In other words, we give the tooth a second chance.

Root canal infection treatment is designed to clear the present infection within the affected tooth. If the tooth has decayed or has been damaged, there’s a possibility of root canal infection spreading through the inside of the tooth, finally reaching the root. As a result, there’s always a risk of root canal infection spreading further, which can lead to tooth extraction if not treated.

What can we do before we undergo root canal infection therapy?

  • Take all medication as prescribed — if there is an ongoing infection, you may be given antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications a couple of days before the appointment.
  • Don’t smoke — It’s well known that tobacco products are slowing our body’s ability to heal. It is best to avoid smoking or reduce it as much as possible.
  • Eat healthy food — Since the affected area will be under local anesthesia, and your mouth will be numb for a couple of hours, it’s best to eat nice and healthy before the treatment.

How Long Does the Treatment Last?

The root canal infection treatment varies on the scale of infection and size of the tooth, it can take from 30 minutes up to 90 minutes.

Do Root Canals Hurt?

Many people are scared of dentists and are afraid of what might come after the treatment, thinking they’ll have tooth pain. However, since the source of the infection is removed during the root canal treatment, most people find immediate relief after the procedure.

What Is the Root Canal Infection Treatment?

Root canal infection treatment is a straight-forwarded dental procedure that relieves you from root canal infection pain and your teeth. During the procedure, an endodontist who specializes in such treatment carefully removes the pulp inside the tooth, cleans it, disinfects it, and shapes the root canals, finishing off with root canal fillings to seal the space.

PROFESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS. She has been trained in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Disease, Critical Care Medicine, and Anxiety Medicine. In addition, she was also trained in Thoracic Transplantation Medicine and Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. CERTIFICATIONS Dr. Sarah Edwards is Board Certified in the following: • Internal Medicine • Child Diseases • Critical Medicine • She is also a Diplomate of The American Board of Anxiety Medicine. EDUCATION Postgraduate: • University of Nevada School of Medicine • Residency: Internal Medicine