Root Canal Procedure and Orthodontic Tooth Movements

Good dental health relies upon practicing good oral hygiene. Indeed, to describe the benefits of good oral hygiene, it might be more educational to give it a little twist and start with the ugly part first and get to the root of the problem, the root canal infection.

We might start saying the mouth is the entrance door to all the foods the body needs for nutrition. However, do you know what would happen if you don’t brush and floss your teeth?

Firstly, when we eat, the pH in our mouth changes to an acidic level that helps dissolve foods. However, this change is a paradisiacal environment for bacteria to grow.

Also, when we eat, traces of food and debris that remain in our mouths serve bacteria to feed. As they breed from these residues, they produce acidic waste.

So, in addition to fostering the growth of bacteria colonies, a change in the mouth’s pH also increases the chance of enamel erosion.

This might sound fatalistic, but as bacteria grow in number, they form a protective layer named biofilm that acts as a shield and allows them to stick to teeth and gummy tissue.

Biofilm has an acidic composition that works as kryptonite for teeth, debilitating the outer protective layer “enamel.” As a result, biofilm bacteria produce tooth decay and cavities that can reach the uttermost part of teeth, known as “pulp,” which, in common words, is the living part of a tooth where the roots sit.

Once bacteria reach the roots, a no-return journey starts, and you will be derived to an endodontist to get your tooth nerves removed (root canal endodontic treatment). So, now you might understand why we wanted to describe the ugly part first.

For a patient to know the benefits of good oral health, it is a priority to comprehend the outcome of bad oral hygiene habits first. Unfortunately, having braces makes oral hygiene a complicated task. Consequently, this article intertwines the occurrence of dealing with a root canal procedure and orthodontic tooth movements.

What Is a Root Canal?

In the first part, we described enamel, which is the protectant outer part of a tooth. In the next layer, a yellowish hard structure comprises the most volume and soft tissue named the pulp, containing nerves.

Now that we dove into the tooth’s structure. A root canal is a dental treatment procedure performed by an endodontist that seeks to clear bacteria from the tooth canals of the pulp. As bacteria advances, it expands the infectious area. Once the infection reaches the pulp’s nerves, it causes unbearable pain.

Incidentally, when we talk about nerves, we all get frightened about “pain.” Yet, pain is the number one reason patients seek emergency aid and relief, and if your dentist refers you to an endodontist, you can rest relieved your pain will go away.

Therefore, an endodontist clears the infected area (canal), treats the infection, and removes the pulp. Once the specialist removes the pulp, she cleans it in detail and eliminates any trace of bacteria before filling the inner empty spaces and finally proceeding to seal them.

At this point, a tooth has a second chance to survive, and the pain disappears. However, new concerns arise for patients requiring orthodontic treatment. Accordingly, next, we explore root canal and orthodontic treatment in detail.

But What Causes Concern for Patients About a Root Canal?

The structure of the inner layer is a pack of blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerves. This structure nurtures the tooth, which is why we say it is the living part of a tooth.

However, a tooth can still survive without a root as it is surrounded by tissue that fulfills the function of supporting the tooth with nutrients; roots also provide support to a tooth.

During orthodontic treatment, braces or clear aligners exert a controlled strain that produces continuous teeth displacement. As teeth move, they produce a transmission of energy downwards to the roots.

The energy strain in the roots configures and re-configures the soft tissue structure inside the bone producing orthodontic tooth movement. However, how can this happen if there is no root anymore?

Can I Wear Braces Over Root Canal-treated Teeth?

Yes, you can wear traditional braces and clear aligners over root canal-treated teeth. In fact, sometimes, getting braces complicates oral hygiene and increases the risk of pulp infection.

Consequently, patients in braces might be prone to develop a root infection and experience intolerable pain. Favorably for them, the orthodontist cements braces in the outer front face of teeth.

An endodontist performs a perforation to reach the root canal, starting from the occlusal part of a tooth. However, in some cases, braces come in the way, and it might be necessary to refer the patient to an orthodontist to remove the bracket from the affected tooth or deinstall the appliances momentarily.

In the second scenario, an orthodontist might resume the orthodontic treatment after the dental procedure by reinstalling the appliances or adjustments after a full tooth healing to regain orthodontic tooth movement. It might take approximately a month or two to observe the inflammatory process to recede.

How To Maintain Good Oral Hygiene With Braces?

If you haven’t had tooth root pain, we can assure you won’t want it. Once the infection touches the nerves, patients usually make an immediate call to get an emergency appointment and obtain a painkiller prescription.

Furthermore, during orthodontic treatment, patients must extreme measures to ensure avoiding bacteria build-up. Here we include some recommended actions you might place in practice to avoid having a root canal process:

Brushing

Brushing is an irreplaceable activity in the oral hygiene routine for a braces-wearing patient. We recommend you get a soft-bristled toothbrush, spending an extra minute per mouth quadrant.

Also, we recommend you brush your teeth in front of a mirror so you can identify any residue stuck in your brackets or trapped between the wires and teeth.

Flossing

Use an interdental flosser and a self-threading flosser. The American Dental Association recommends these two types of flossers will guarantee you high maneuverability for hard-to-reach spaces. Complimentarily, you can use a water irrigator to unclog hard-to-remove food particles.

Mouthwash

You can get fairly good oral hygiene after proper brushing and flossing, but to perfect the procedure, you can also use a mouthwash to reduce bacteria in your mouth.

We Can Help You Get a Beautiful Smile

At Hillsdale Orthodontics, we can help you get a beautiful smile. We adore looking at our patients happy by seeing how they get straight teeth a bit more after checkups. Also, we love when they cross our office doors with a smile. Now you can also get the smile you love, make an appointment or visit us. We will do our best to help you get a healthy and stunning smile.

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Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

As a nutty overachiever, Dr. Leemin never lost sight of her childhood dreams of becoming a smartypants orthodontist. After graduating from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors, she embarked on her career in dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated #1 in her class. Feeling just a little too ambitious, she then completed 2.5 years of additional training at OHSU to become an orthodontic specialist.

Stanford University – Bachelor of Arts with Honors
Univ. of Pennsylvania – Doctor of Dental Medicine
Oregon Health & Science Univ. – Master of Science
Oregon Health & Science Univ. – Certificate in Orthodontics

Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

As a nutty overachiever, Dr. Leemin never lost sight of her childhood dreams of becoming a smartypants orthodontist. After graduating from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors, she embarked on her career in dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated #1 in her class. Feeling just a little too ambitious, she then completed 2.5 years of additional training at OHSU to become an orthodontic specialist.

Stanford University – Bachelor of Arts with Honors
Univ. of Pennsylvania – Doctor of Dental Medicine
Oregon Health & Science Univ. – Master of Science
Oregon Health & Science Univ. – Certificate in Orthodontics