No one goes looking to get a root canal, but one of the most common dental villains — plaque — can lead straight to needing one. Read on to find out how plaque can lead to a root canal — and what to do to stop it.
What is Plaque?
Plaque arises from a sticky substance leftover from eating and drinking called biofilm. Biofilm is a thin layer of bacteria that forms every 8 to 12 hours. Normally, it’s removed with brushing and flossing, but if not, it transforms into plaque and tartar.
Plaque releases acids onto your tooth enamel every time you eat, which in turn 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?
An untreated infection caused by plaque and tartar is both extremely painful and can lead to further damage. The infection can even reach the jaw bone and start to dissolve it, leading to tooth loss, abscessed teeth, sepsis (an infection of the blood), and even death. This is why it’s vital to go to your dentist at the first sign of tooth pain. Your life could actually depend on it!
When your dentist performs a root canal, he or she cleans out an infected tooth before these problems start. The process removes infected pulp and relieves pain, and often allows the tooth to be preserved and repaired.
How Do I Avoid Plaque?
Plaque build-up can be avoided with good dental hygiene — that means brushing twice daily, flossing every day, and seeing your dentist twice a year. Paying attention to your diet makes a difference too, so try to limit sugary and sticky foods. A good dental hygiene routine will help prevent plaque build-up, and hopefully that means avoiding root canals too.