The body's immune response to an injury can be remarkable, and sometimes a little surprising. If you receive a hard knock to a tooth, you might assume that the tooth will simply become loose, or even fall out. If there were no immediate symptoms, you may not have sought treatment. What you might not expect is that your immune response has started working in an unexpected way—hardening the tooth from the inside out.
In reaction to trauma, a tooth's internal structure can begin to calcify. The calcification of tissue is the accumulation of calcium, which causes the affected tissues to harden. It's a natural process, although it may not be a welcome process. But isn't it a good thing that your tooth is hardening? After all, won't this make the tooth stronger?
Each of your teeth has a central chamber, where the tooth's pulp (which is its nerve) is located. The pulp chamber is already occupied by the tooth's pulp, and the calcification process can create a few issues in this respect. As the pulp chamber slowly fills with calcified tissue, there may not be enough physical space for healthy tooth pulp.
One of the more common procedures in modern dentistry is the root canal, which is the removal of necrotic (dead) or damaged pulp material. The tooth can remain perfectly functional without its pulp, yet this compromised pulp must be removed. Without removal, damaged and infected tooth pulp can cause ongoing discomfort, with the infection being able to spread to surrounding soft and hard tissues in your mouth. A calcified tooth may require a root canal.
Root canal treatment involves your dentist creating an access point into the tooth (creating a cavity). Once opened, the tooth's compromised pulp can be removed. There will now be an empty space in the partially calcified pulp chamber, and after thoroughly irrigating the chamber, your dentist will fill the hollow with medical-grade latex before sealing the tooth with a filling. And yet, depending on your degree of calcification and the precise spot where calcification began, root canal treatment may not be necessary.
The calcification of the tooth's internal structure may not affect the health of the tooth's pulp. It may, however, affect the look of the tooth—turning it noticeably yellow when compared to its neighbours. This discolouration can be concealed beneath dental bonding (a layer of tooth-coloured resin), or a dental crown, or a dental veneer.
Calcified teeth often become apparent due to the discolouration effect, or may only first be noted during a routine checkup. The tooth may not require treatment, but only your dentist can truly make this assessment.
To learn more, contact a dentisty office.