Information on How Cavities Turn Into Infected Roots

From Cavities To Root Canals

What Is A Cavity?

A dental cavity is a hole in a tooth.  This is usually caused by a bacterial infection of a tooth that eats away at the enamel.  The bacteria thrive in an acidic and sugary environment, which allows them to penetrate deeper into a tooth.

How Does A Cavity Get Bigger?

If left untreated, the cavity will spread from the enamel (the hard outer layer of the tooth) to the dentin (the softer inner layer of the tooth).  Once the bacteria reach the dentin, they spread very quickly through the tubes that are in the dentin.

When Will The Cavity Turn Into An Infected Root?

This is a harder question to answer.  There is no clear answer because every person, and every tooth, is different.  The trigger for an infected root is trauma.  Just like trauma in any other part of the body, the body responds by swelling and increasing blood flow to the area.  However, because the tooth is a hard structure and does not expand, it does not swell well.  This means that the extra blood flow and cells in the area create an increase in pressure in the tooth.  If this pressure gets too much for the tooth, the blood flow to the tooth stops and the nerve begins to degenerate.  With a non-vital nerve and a lack of blood flow, it is a perfect area for bacteria to grow unhindered.  This is when the root is infected.

So, Are Untreated Cavities The Only Cause For An Infected Root?

No.  As mentioned earlier, the main trigger for an infected root is trauma.  This could be trauma from bacteria, a broken tooth, physical trauma to the tooth or trauma from treating a tooth.  The overwhelming trigger is untreated cavities.  This is why it is important to treat any cavities early.  Physical trauma is reduced by ensuring a mouth guard is worn during sports and by making sure that teeth are used for chewing, and not as tools for opening bottles or cracking hard nuts.  The third reason is trauma from treating a tooth.  There is always a little trauma to a tooth when there is work completed on it.  The majority of the time, the tooth heals because the trauma is minimal.  However, with larger fillings or crowns, the tooth will face more trauma.  Again, most of the time the tooth will heal without issue, but some of the time the trauma will be too much for the tooth to handle and it will start the irreversible pressure cascade.

What Can I Do To Prevent An Infected Root?

The best way to prevent an infected root is regular dental maintenance at home and regular professional dental visits.  This allows our team to prevent decay and catch it early when it does occur.  Also, wearing a mouth guard during sports and avoiding teeth as tools will help.

I Have An Infected Root, What Are My Options?

The only way to effectively remove the bacteria from the root of a tooth is to either complete a root canal or to remove the tooth.  Please visit our Video Page for more information about the root canal or tooth extraction procedures.

If you have any questions or concerns about your teeth, root canals, cavities or dental extractions, please call our downtown Victoria, BC dental office at 250.383.3741 or email us at reception@drsajan.ca.