Some patients may wonder why they can’t just take antibiotics to treat a tooth infection like they would for an infection elsewhere in the body. They may have reservations about root canal treatment – although they are often unfounded – and look for alternatives.
A tooth infection differs from infection elsewhere in the body in some important ways. Antibiotics generally are delivered to the site of infection via the blood supply in that area. Unfortunately, in the case of infection in a tooth, the blood supply is also affected by the infection, making this approach to treatment ineffective.
Therefore, the best treatment for a tooth infection is a root canal performed by an endodontist, which is a dentist who specializes in conditions affecting the innermost structures of the tooth.
During a root canal, the endodontist creates a small hole in the tooth and removes the infected pulp material. The empty pulp chamber is then cleaned thoroughly to remove any lingering bacteria, then sealed with a rubber-like substance called gutta percha. This prevents bacteria from repopulating the empty pulp chamber.
After the endodontist has completed the root canal, you’ll need to return to your general dentist to have a crown placed on the tooth. This offers an additional level of protection to a tooth that is somewhat weakened by the root canal treatment.
Although antibiotics will not be effective in lieu of a root canal, your provider may prescribe a preventive course of these medications following your root canal treatment. This is to reduce your risk of developing infection in the bone surrounding the tooth, which prophylactic antibiotics are very effective at doing. It is essential that you complete the entire course of antibiotics as directed, even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms of infection.
Antibiotics are typically not indicated to treat an infected tooth, but a root canal can help to preserve a tooth in such cases. Call our team at Access Endodontics to schedule an evaluation and get the facts about root canal treatment.