One of the re-occurring arguments against saving infected teeth is that the infection from the tooth may, in the long-term lead to problems else where in the body. This argument has been around since the 1930’s and is often called the “focal point infection” debate.
When a tooth has an infection it can be treated with a root canal filling (endodontics), which in over 90% of cases will lead to the complete resolution of the infection. Sadly, however, in a small number of cases the infection can remain, which is where the debate arises. It has been argued that the presence of this chronic infection can lead, to amongst other things, coronary heart disease at a later stage in life. Well we can all now breath a collective sigh of relief as a 32 year follow up study of 708 men showed no such link (J Dental research 2006). In reality this is no great surprise as the “focal point infection” argument has never really found support in any research but has always hung around in the background, occasionally making a come back.
The risk to patients of acute, untreated dental infection is very real and significant (I had to arrange for an emergency hospitalisation of a very sick patient last year who presented with a severe dental abscess) and should receive appropriate care as soon as possible. People should not be put off getting the correct dental treatment for any fear of possible long-term outcomes of that treatment.
If you would like to know more about root canal fillings and how they might help relieve your dental pain or infection then please do not hesitate to call the surgery and we will be happy to help.