Dentistry Is Changing
R.S. Mayberry, DDS,
General Dentistry – Dental Implants
In the last article I discussed a way dentists have preserved teeth for many years using root canal
therapy. A problem with many teeth treated this way is that they can become re-infected over time since all
the infecting germs cannot be removed inside the dead tooth, no matter who does the treatment.
Often these dead teeth turn dark brown after root canal treatment as the germs inside the tooth continue
to grow and multiply, spreading inside and discoloring the tooth.
There are teeth like this where the gum tissue surrounding them is chronically inflamed, but the gum
tissue around the vital neighboring teeth shows no such red color or inflammation.
Cleaning the surface of these dead teeth and removing surface build up of toxic bacterial residue from
dental plaque makes little to no improvement as it does around vital teeth. Dead teeth like this example can
trigger an immune system response resulting in an inflammatory reaction.
When the immune system recognizes a threat from a foreign body – germs, viruses, or anything it sees
as threatening, it will attempt to get rid of it by attacking the foreign body on a cellular level. A dead tooth
after root canal treatment can be perceived by the immune system as a threat and the body may try to
Once a dead tooth like this is removed the inflammatory reaction that was around it disappears and the
tissue looks normal again. After replacing an infected tooth with a dental implant, there is typically no
inflammatory reaction from the immune system as seen around some infected teeth.
For reasons not understood, the immune system does not recognize dental implants made of titanium
and some other materials as foreign bodies. This discovery has made the use of dental implants the most
successful long-term treatment to replace natural teeth in the history of dentistry.
Dental implants have been used to replace damaged or missing teeth for more than 40 years. A very
high percentage of these teeth had previous root canal treatments completed at least once.
In the next issue I will be discussing when is the best time to place a dental implant.