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Root Canals

Root canal calcification

05/02/2006

Question:

I recently had a root canal procedure and I was told the root had completely "calcified" and, thus, needed the therapy. This was performed on a tooth next to the one I had the pain in. I was told the now treated tooth could have caused the eruption of the nearby tooth. I am concerned about the tooth that experienced the severe pain. Will this likely need a root canal, too? Also, if a tooth is completely calcified, would this not be a form of "natural root canal"?

Answer:

In general, the pulp of a tooth begins to calcify when there is a chronic irritation of or inflammation in the soft tissue of the pulp (nerve of the tooth). There are a number of factors that can start this process. For example, there could be a deep filling/cavity, periodontal disease or even history of trauma to the tooth.

The calcification of the pulp, in and of itself, is not an indication for the tooth needing a root canal. However, if there are extenuating circumstances, root canal treatment may be needed. Calcification of the pulp is indeed a form of "natural root canal." Unfortunately, it is not perfect, and the voids left behind by the dieing pulp can harbor dead tissue and bacteria which can lead to further problems.

The calcification of one tooth should not cause a neighboring tooth to need a root canal. Therefore the pain associated with one tooth is probably not related to the calcification of the second tooth. There may be two separate problems, and the tooth causing pain may also need treatment.

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Response by:

John M Nusstein, DDS John M Nusstein, DDS
Associate Professor of Endodontics
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University