Is Tooth Pain the Only Indicator of a Dental Problem?

Unfortunately, tooth pain is not the only indicator of a tooth problem.  Some of the most serious tooth problems produce no pain.  A significant percentage of teeth that need root canal treatment are infected and produce no pain.  Infection from a tooth often spreads into the jaw bone and can spread into the sinuses and other areas of the body with no warning, or rather no pain.  Patients often cancel appointments to get dental treatment because the pain they were experiencing went away.


Toothache pain can go away when bacteria destroy the nerve in the tooth or the dental pulp dies.  After circulation loss and nerve death, there is no immunity inside the tooth and bacteria can and will proliferate uncontrolled.  Bacteria inside of the tooth can become general health risks and are asymptomatic until swelling hints to a problem. 


In summary, pain is not the the only indicator to see a dentist or endodontist.  A worse problem can exist that involves infection and no pain.  If you are concerned about a toothache that suddenly went away, or infection—see an endodontist like Dr. J. K. Schow a specialist in treating tooth pain and infection. 

If I take antibiotics for an infected tooth, instead of getting a root canal will my tooth heal?  Are antibiotics an alternative to root canal therapy?


The answer is no.  You can take antibiotics, however antibiotics are only effective in tissue with healthy circulation of blood.  Blood is the courier for the antibiotic. The antibiotic will help swelling from an infection that has spread outside the tooth since the bone and gums have circulation, but when the antibiotic is completed, the infection will restart. 


An abscessed or infected tooth has no circulation, so the antibiotic has no way to get into the tooth or the infected canals in the root.  I see too many cases where patients feel they are healed after help from an antibiotic so they cancel their root canal appointment because the swelling went away. 


The problem is the bacteria inside of the tooth will continue to proliferate (because they are unaffected by the antibiotic) and they reinfect the same area causing bone loss and more space for a bigger more severe infection.


In summary, antibiotics are helpful to reduce swelling and infection outside the tooth but they cannot clear the infection inside the roots.  I prescribe antibiotics as an adjunct to root canal therapy when the glands are swollen and the patient has a fever. 


I will also write an order for antibiotics when patients present with infection well beyond the tooth source.  Additionally, antibiotics are especially helpful for patients that are diabetic or immune compromised. 


If you are concerned about any of these issues and would like an evaluation, you can give me a call and schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns.  Wishing you health and happiness:  Dr. J K Schow — endodontic specialists in Vancouver, Washington