When a Root Canal Infection Leads to Tooth Loss By Alex Hecht on May 24, 2020

Illustration, cross-section of molar toothWhen the pulp of a tooth is exposed, it can lead to a root canal infection. This condition is typically characterized by pain, swelling, and redness. Often, this type of infection can be addressed with root canal treatment. In some cases, however, the tooth must be removed. Here, our Staten Island, NY, dental team discusses root canal infection and tooth loss, and we explains how dental implants can help.

About Root Canal Infection

When decay or damage reaches the inner layer of a tooth, the pulp becomes infected. This is usually accompanied by a few signs and symptoms:

  • Pain: Root canal infection can cause mild to severe discomfort, which may intensify when pressure is applied.
  • Drainage: Sometimes infection may start to drain through a fistula, or bump, on the gums.
  • Swelling: The gum tissue around the affected tooth will likely be red and puffy.
  • Bad taste: Root canal infections can cause bad breath or a bad taste from oral bacteria.

Not everyone develops these warning signs. Therefore, it is important to visit your dentist regularly. Routine exams can help your dentist identify and treat these issues before they worsen.

When Is Tooth Removal Recommended?

A root canal infection does not always indicate extraction. In fact, root canal therapy boasts impressive success rates when performed correctly. However, if the damage is extensive, it is important to weigh the risks and benefits of all treatment options. Sometimes removing the infected tooth is the best option. Your Staten Island dentist can help you determine which option will offer the best chance for long-term health.

Addressing Tooth Loss with Dental Implants

If a tooth must be removed, a dental implant is often the most reliable, longest-lasting solution. Implants have over a 95 percent success rate and last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. Here are the basic steps to expect if you replace an infected tooth with a dental implant:

  • Tooth removal: First, the infected tooth must be extracted. A bone graft is typically performed at the same time to prepare a solid foundation for the implant post.
  • Healing period: In some cases, the implant can be placed right away. However, oftentimes the extraction site must heal for several weeks before this occurs.
  • Dental implant placement: When the bone is ready, the implant can be placed. This step is performed during a surgical visit and can usually be completed in about one hour.
  • Healing period: Once the implant is placed, it needs to fuse to the jawbone (a process known as osseointegration). This process takes about three to six months to complete. If the missing tooth is in the smile zone, your dentist can provide a temporary tooth to fill the space.
  • Placement of crown: When the implant has fully integrated into the jawbone, the final restoration can be added. Once in place, your new implant can be used just like a natural tooth.

Contact Our Practice to Learn More

If you suspect you have an infected tooth, schedule a consultation with a Staten Island dentist today. Call us at (718) 705-4434 or contact us online anytime.

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