Tags Posts tagged with "Root Canals"

Root Canals

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Filling Fell Out of Front Tooth
©MicroWorks/Shutterstock.com

I got an email earlier this week from a reader named Trish.  She asked the following:

“What will happen if the filling comes out of your tooth, and you don’t have it replaced, other than pain trying to eat?”

Lost Filling from ToothBefore I answer that question, let’s take a look at why fillings fall out.  A  filling normally doesn’t fall out of your tooth just for fun – it usually has a pretty good reason!  Fillings can come out because of decay around the filling, because the filling cracked, or because it wasn’t put in properly.

Basically, if your filling fell out, chances are that there was something wrong and you should get your tooth looked at by a dentist.

If the filling came out and it was recently put in, your dentist might give you a break and put a new filling in.  If it was an old filling and it just came out, you may have a cavity under the filling.

Regardless of why the filling fell out, it’s important to replace it.  To answer Trish’s question, here’s a list of eight things that could happen to your tooth if your filling fell out and you don’t have it replaced.

Eight Things that Can Happen If You Don’t Replace a Lost Filling

1 – Sensitivity

When you lose a filling, it exposes the sensitive dentin (the inner hard layer of your tooth) to your mouth.  Depending on how close the filling was to the pulp of your tooth, it could hurt all the time or only when you eat, as Trish mentioned above.  Either way, the pain means that there’s something wrong that needs to get taken care of!

Not sure what dentin and pulp are?  Check out my article on the anatomy of a tooth to find out!

2 – Root Canal

The pulp inside of your tooth could get irritated, causing pulpitis.  The textbook Clinical Endodontics by Leif Tronstad states, “Factors leading to an infectious pulpitis are conditions that contribute to the exposure of the dentin and dentinal tubules to the oral environment.”

3 – It’s Harder to Clean

Teeth are hard to clean when they have a big gaping hole in them.  Even if you can get the toothbrush bristles down to the bottom of the hole where the filling was, chances are that you won’t be able to easily clean out the entire hole where the filling was located.

4 – Bad Breath

When you eat food, the natural contours of the teeth allow you to efficiently chew and grind the food into little, easily-digested pieces.  When you have a hole in your tooth and you chew, you push the food down into the hole.  Since teeth with lost fillings are more difficult to clean (see #3), that food could be sitting in there for quite some time and cause your breath to be less than pleasant to those around you!  Even if you do have bad breath, people probably aren’t going to tell you.

5 – Tooth Decay

Because the tooth is harder to clean and you’re buyonlinegenericmeds.com grinding food into it every time you eat, it’s much easier for you to get a cavity in that tooth.  If the reason that you lost the filling was because you had a cavity under it, the cavity will probably get bigger the longer treatment is put off.

6 – The Tooth Could Crack or Break

If the tooth goes for a long time with a lost filling, it may develop a cavity, which can subsequently weaken the tooth structure and cause the tooth to break or crack.  Without the filling, the tooth will also experience different forces that end up causing it to break.

7 – Difficulty Repairing Tooth With a White Filling

When you lose a filling and expose the dentin to your saliva, the dentin reacts by trying to fight off the bacteria.  The little tubules inside the dentin eventually close off to try to protect the nerve of the tooth.  When this happens, it is known as sclerotic dentin.  A problem with sclerotic dentin is that it is much harder to get a white filling to bond to sclerotic dentin than it is to get a white filling to bond to regular dentin.

8 – The Tooth May Need to Be Extracted

If you wait too long, the tooth may break and become so badly decayed that it is what dentists like to call unrestorable.  That means that just like Humpty Dumpty, nobody will be able to put that tooth back together again, and it will have to come out.

What Are Your Options When a Filling Falls Out?

I assume that Trish wants to know what would happen because she either has a fear of the dentist or can’t afford to get a new filling right now.

If fear is keeping you away from the dentist, take a look at this article about reasons people are scared of the dentist, and then figure out your fear and try to overcome it.  There is help available online at sites like Dental Fear Central.

If cost is keeping you away from the dentist, then you can call your dentist and ask how much a temporary filling would cost.  A temporary filling would allow you to get the tooth filled fairly inexpensively until you can save up for a permanent filling.  An even more temporary solution is to try some temporary filling materials until you can see your dentist.  I talk about a few different brands in my article about what you should do when you lose a filling from your tooth.

Conclusion

If you have a filling come out, it’s necessary to get the filling replaced as soon as possible to ensure the long-term health of your tooth.  If you can’t afford it, there are temporary solutions available that you dentist may discuss with you.

Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about losing a filling from your tooth?  Go ahead and leave a comment in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you.  Thanks for reading!

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Root Canals Stain Teeth
©Warren Goldswain/Shutterstock.com

Last week, Pam left a comment asking whether or not root canal treatment can darken a tooth.  I gave her a short answer, telling her that sometimes root canals can discolor teeth.

If you want to know about the four different ways that a root canal can darken your tooth, this article is for you.

4 Ways Getting a Root Canal Can Discolor or Stain Your Tooth

Pink Rubber Dental Dam1 – The tooth can get discolored if any pulp tissue is left inside the tooth.  If you’ve read this post about the anatomy of a tooth, then you know that the pulp is the center layer of the tooth.

It can be easy for a dentist to accidentally leave some pulp tissue inside of the tooth because sometimes the pulp isn’t all together in the middle of the tooth.  Sometimes there are little offshoots of pulp tissue in little tunnels that branch away from the main pulp chamber known as pulp horns.

The book Esthetic Dentistry by Aschheim states, “Elusive pulp horns and lateral extensions of the pulp chamber often remain untouched during routine endodontic access preparation…Careful removal of tissue and debris from these areas may help prevent subsequent tooth discoloration.”

If any pulp tissue is left inside of the tooth after the root canal is completed, it can decompose and eventually discolor the tooth.

How to fix discoloration caused by pulp tissue: Usually internal bleaching can remove any discoloration that was caused by pulp remnants left inside of the tooth.

2 – A tooth with a root canal get get discolored if root canal filling materials are left in the crown portion of the tooth.  When dentists do root canals, they remove the pulp tissue from the tooth (hopefully enough so that it doesn’t discolor the tooth – see above) and replace it with a liquid sealer and a solid rubber filling material called gutta percha.

This study showed that all root canal sealers can cause tooth discoloration when remnants of the sealer are left in the crown portion of the tooth.  Certain sealers may stain the tooth more than others.  Gutta percha is also believed to be able to discolor teeth.

Prevention is the best approach for this type of root canal discoloration.  The dentist can prevent this by removing any root canal filling materials that are in the crown portion of the tooth and keeping them isolated to the root portion of the tooth.

How to fix discoloration caused by root canal filling materials: Internal bleaching is the best method to remove this type of root canal discoloration.  However, if the staining was caused by a sealer with a high metal content, bleaching may not be extremely successful and if it is, the tooth may discolor again in the future.

3 – Medications that are put into the root canal can discolor a tooth with a root canal.  Sometimes dentists add certain medications when they do root canals to help increase the chances that the root canal will be successful.

The book Endodontics: Principles and Practice by Torabinejad says, “Several medicaments have the potential to cause internal discoloration of the dentin.  Phenolic or iodoform-based…medications, sealed in the root canal space, are in direct contact with dentin, sometimes for long periods, allowing for their penetration and oxidization.   These compounds have a tendency to discolor the dentin gradually.”

How to fix discoloration caused by root canal medications: A majority of root canal discoloration caused by medications can be reversed by simply bleaching the tooth.

4 – A tooth with a root canal can get discolored depending the material that is put inside of the crown.  If an amalgam (silver metal) filling is used to build the crown of the tooth back up after completion of the root canal, the amalgam filling can stain the tooth a dark gray color.

You can prevent this staining by asking your dentist to not use amalgam to fill any of your front teeth so that your smile remains aesthetically pleasing.

How to fix a discoloration in a tooth with a root canal caused by an amalgam filling:  Metallic discoloration caused by an amalgam filling is hard to remove, but some experts say that internal bleaching may work depending on how discolored the tooth is.  Sometimes, replacing the metal filling with a white composite filling can help gradually reduce the staining caused by the amalgam filling.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a variety of ways that root canals can discolor your teeth, but they are usually reversible.

This doesn’t mean that root canals will always discolor your teeth.  I had a root canal on a tooth four years ago.  I had it filled with a white composite filling and it hasn’t discolored.

In fact, many times a root canal can turn a discolored tooth white again!

Do you have any comments or questions about tooth discoloration due to root canal treatment?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!