Why teeth become infected

A tooth is a complex, living part of you, closely connected via the blood supply to the heart and brain. It is protected by enamel, the strongest substance in the human body. Once you have decay or a hole in your tooth, it is weakened. While a filling offers protection and helps strengthen the tooth, in time it may crack or fracture.

Colonies of bacteria live inside the tooth and will get into the decayed tooth and cause an infection. This will spread from the pulp at the centre of the tooth, down into the roots and then the bone. The result is likely to be inflammation or an abscess, leading to eventual tooth loss if left untreated.

Sometimes it is possible to have an infection and not feel anything. As soon as you suspect you have an infection, however, it is best to get the tooth diagnosed and treated so that it can be saved and continue to be of service to you.

Diagram showing before and after root canal treatment

Facts about tooth infections

  • Bacteria inside the root canals of our teeth cause infection (endodontic disease) in the surrounding bone - more than 90 species of bacteria have been identified inside root canals
  • A high percentage of the population in the UK and elsewhere has endodontic disease but is unaware of this
  • Whilst our immune systems can keep endodontic disease in check and pain free for years...
  • ...this is not necessarily in our interests and is the reason why you should have regular dental check-ups
  • Endodontic disease can erode the supporting bone
  • Severe pain and swelling can occur at any time

Cracked teeth

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