This patient came into the office complaining of sensitivity and only a small amount of pain due to the fact that the tooth’s nerve had been removed and was no longer registering pain. This case clearly highlights the fact that root canal treated teeth are dead, embalmed teeth that can lead to serious jaw bone infections.
As you will see on the X-ray and by examining the tooth, this infection was essentially invisible (hidden under a crown), unfelt by the patient and misdiagnosed by at least one other dentist. Root-canal treated teeth are effectively dead teeth that can, and all too frequently do become silent incubators for highly toxic anaerobic bacteria. These bacteria can, under certain conditions make their way into the bloodstream, causing a number of serious medical conditions—conditions that may not even become apparent until decades later.
The patient came complained of slight pain under the existing crown, which another dentist recommended re-cementing back into place, opting to completely ignore the patient’s issue of pain. Luckily the patient chose to seek another opinion. This picture depicts the condition of the crown.
The primary root canal abscess usually involves both the root tip of the tooth and the dead pulp. A colony of live bacteria builds up inside the root canal and spreads into the surrounding tissue. This rapid spread of infection can cause the dental ligament to develop acute periodontitis (to become inflamed) and can result in mild to extreme pain. Sometimes, the inflammation is so sudden and severe that it pushes the tooth slightly out of the tooth socket and brings even more pain when chewing. In this case, below you can see the severe periapical pathology (infection) around the mesial tooth root:
These types of root canal failures can have serious repercussions on the body, primarily due to the level of toxic bacteria that is released from the infected site into the body. Often various strains of staphylococci and streptococci are contributory microorganism; however, a wide variety of other anarobes microorganisms such as Baccteroides, Peptococcus, Peprtostreptococcus, Actinomyces, Eubacterium, and Fusohacterium, are sometimes found. Unfortunately these anaerobes tend to be resistant to antibiotic treatment including penicillin. Below, the discoloration of the dead root-canal treated tooth was surrounded by infection and inflammation.
More often than not teeth treated by root canals result in infection. While this type of infection can remain hidden as it did for the patient in this case, a substantial number of people can and will suffer sudden and insidious pain due to inflammation caused by the aggressive nature of the bacteria. Ultimately the risks associated with root canal therapy will never justify the need to keep a dead tooth in your mouth where it can become an incubator of highly toxic bacteria.