How Plaque Can Lead to the Need for a Root Canal

plaque on teeth dr irwin lees summit dentist

It’s perhaps one of the most dreaded statements in the dental experience: “You’re going to need a root canal.”  Now, while the root canal’s reputation is a little undeserved, the truth is, you obviously want to avoid them when possible.  Read on to learn how.

The Number One Cause of Root Canals: Plaque

Persistent plaque eats away at the enamel of your teeth.  Eventually it can cause so much damage that the pulp of your tooth becomes infected, causing inflammation and a lot of pain.  If that happens, a root canal is the only way to save the tooth.

What is Plaque?

Plaque arises from a substance called biofilm.  Biofilm is a thin layer of bacteria that forms every 8 to 12 hours.  If left to its own devices (no brushing and flossing), it transforms into plaque and tartar.

Why is Plaque So Dangerous?lees summit dentist root canal

Plaque is a sticky combination of bacteria and sugar that releases acids onto your tooth enamel every time you eat.  Those acids eat through your tooth enamel and cause cavities.  If those cavities become infected with that same bacteria, it can cause pain, inflammation, and even threaten loss of the tooth itself.

Why Would a Root Canal Be Necessary?

If an infection caused by plaque and tartar goes untreated, it can reach the jaw bone and can cause cascading severe problems.  The bone in your jaw can start to dissolve, leading to tooth loss, abscessed teeth, sepsis (an infection of the blood), and even death.

Luckily, a root canal can clean out an infected tooth before these problems start, and the process removes infected pulp, relieves pain, and usually allows the tooth to be preserved.

How Do I Avoid Plaque?

Luckily, plaque build-up is relatively easy to avoid with good dental hygiene.  Brush twice daily, floss every day, and see your dentist twice a year.  For extra credit, try to limit sugary foods, especially if they’re sticky.  If you stick to a good dental hygiene routine, you’re much more likely to prevent plaque build-up and avoid root canals in the process.

Dental Care by Dr. Irwin

With more than 30 years of dentistry, Dr. Irwin has the knowledge and experience to help you achieve the best dental health and the best overall health.  For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 816-347-9933, or contact us via our website.