Posted on: 23 December 2015
The roots of your teeth provide a passage for important nerve, blood, and tissue cells to gain access to the central root canals. Diligent oral healthcare can help keep all aspects of your teeth healthy. But problems forming in the roots can sometimes take time to notice and can prove more difficult to treat than surface problems such as teeth staining or minor cracks.
What are some of the common dental problems that can threaten the health of your teeth roots – and how can your general dentist treat the problems?
Oral bacteria that linger due to improper healthcare can lead to infection. The infection can occur in the soft tissues surrounding the tooth and then use the holes in the bottom of the roots to infect both the root and to move upwards and inflame the pulp. Inflamed pulp leads to a condition called pulpitis, which causes the pulp to swell and press on the inside of the tooth. This pressure will eventually cause cavities and general weakening of the tooth's dentin.
The pulpitis is treated via root canal therapy, which involves the dentist drilling a hole in the tooth, scraping out the pulp, rinsing out the root canal, and then plugging the canal to keep new pulp from entering. A root canal procedure is generally effective at cleaning out the infected material and keeping the infection from coming back.
The tooth roots terminate within the soft tissue and jawbone. The lowest ends of the roots are called the apexes, which have entry holes called the apical foramen that lets the pulp material – and potentially an infection – inside the tooth. If the infection is lingering deep within the apexes, a standard root canal might not reach deep enough to completely clear out the problem. A recurrent infection can then develop in a tooth that has already undergone a root canal.
An apicoectomy can often clear out the lingering infection. Your general dentist will access the apexes through the soft tissue and bone and snip off the apical foramens. The remaining root tips will be sealed shut to protect the tooth from any future infection that tries to enter.
Long-term infections and certain systemic illnesses can lead to bone density issues and bone loss in the region around the tooth roots. The bone loss can cause furcation of the roots of a tooth. Furcation refers to the roots starting to split apart and shifting in different directions, which compromises the structural integrity of the tooth.
Moderate to severe furcation will require a bone graft to cure the underlying problem. Your dentist will remove bone from your jaw or elsewhere in your mouth to splice into the weak area below your tooth or teeth. The new and old bone will heal and fuse together over time. If the furcation is severe, your dentist might try to shift the roots closer together at the same time the graft is performed.Share