A conventional root canal basically kills the tooth by removing the nerve/pulp from the root chamber and filling it with a latex/heavy metal salts-laden material called "gutta percha." Almost immediately, the blood and lymphatic circulation to that tooth may cease, because it has become a "dead" tooth (due to the nerve/pulp of the tooth--which was connected to the circulatory system--being removed, and the gutta percha filling material not being a biocompatible compound).
Unfortunately, that same circulatory system also serves the bone tissue in the area around the tooth; and as that circulation ceases, the bone tissue may become ischemic (starved for oxygen), then die, and eventually form a cavitation, which is an abscess or a gangrene-like necrosis resulting from this tissue death.
The necrotic, dead bone tissue acts as a wall, or barrier, preventing the re-growth of healthy bone tissue, because the circulation can't get to it. The cavitation may then become dangerously infected or abscessed. The danger is that a patient may not even know that this condition exists, because many times there is no accompanying pain, due to the absence of the tooth nerve, and the tooth being dead.
Much like a gangrenous limb, the conventional solution for healing dental cavitations has been to surgically remove the festering, infected area, which then creates the need for surgical implantation of replacement bone material.
Our Approach to Healing Dental Cavitations Caused by Root Canals
After correcting the situation which caused the problem in the first place, we take a much less invasive approach to dealing with these cavitations. One alternative is to simply restore the health to the area by making a tiny hole in the bone around the infected area. This induces bleeding and the formation of a blood-clot matrix, which then eventually restores blood flow and lymphatic drainage, and develops a growth matrix, allowing new, healthy bone to re-generate and grow. Dr. Hansen has documented several cases in which this one simple procedure caused the surrounding bone to re-grow.
For more destructive lesions involving larger cavitational areas, instead of going in surgically and grinding away good solid bone structure while removing the necrosis, at our Center we have the ability to go in and clean out and sterilize the cavitation with a laser. The void is then filled with a bone-growing material such as calcium sulfates, bone mineral crystals, and matrix-developing proteins. These are called osteoinductive materials, meaning that they will induce bone to grow.
Healing Dental Cavitations Caused by Extractions
A tooth extraction may also cause a cavitation--in fact, if all of the infection in the tooth socket is not removed along with the infected tooth, the site may become a breeding ground for bacteria that can then impact the surrounding bone as well as the rest of the body.
Infected or dead bone may then lead to serious health problems including a condition called "Neuralgia Inducing Cavitational Osteonecrosis (NICO), in which the patient winds up with a little festering bone that never gets well and produces chronic, disabling pain in the jaw.
In this black-and-white photo, we see a cross-section of an autopsied jawbone, with a cavitation showing the necrotic dead bone tissue. This cavitation was caused by an extracted tooth.
One conventional way to deal with this problem is to grind down the cavitation, and hope the bone grows back. However, many times it does not grow back because the contributing cause was poor blood and lymphatic circulation that caused the diseased bone in the first place.
Another reason that conventional cavitational surgery may not be the best choice is that as the drill grinds down the cavitation and the infection inside, it is actually pushing these infectious agents back into the body's blood supply where it is picked up and absorbed. Thus, toxins, infection and bacteria can be spread throughout the entire body through the blood stream.
At Laser Dental Center - Fullerton, healing dental cavitations caused by extractions may be achieved in several ways. Surgery with the laser, new biocompatible bone regeneration materials and techniques, and microcrystalline bone replacement materials may be used to help fill in and rebuild the damaged bone. Follow up care may include using ionized oxygen and low-level healing laser therapy. Then, enzyme therapy, homeopathic remedies and several other techniques to improve the circulation and lymphatic drainage in the bone may also be used.
Dr. Hansen believes that all that is needed to prompt the body to regenerate treated cavitational areas naturally, is a supply of blood, nutrients and oxygen to re-grow the bone; and good lymphatic drainage to remove toxins. At our Center, we provide these things, and monitor progress carefully to make sure that natural, beneficial healing is taking place.
For more information on healing dental cavitations, or any other topic discussed on this site, please feel free to Contact Us.