Human teeth have more complex structures than many of their owners may know about. A typical tooth consists of tough enamel enveloping another substance called cementum and an inner material called dentin. The inner chamber of the tooth contains a combination of blood vessels, soft tissues, and nerves called the pulp.
You may already know that infected or damaged pulp can cause serious dental problems such as toothaches and abscesses. However, you may never have heard of a condition called pulp calcification. Check out the following four questions and answers about this strange issue and its possible effects on your dental health.
1. What Forms Can Tooth Pulp Calcification Take?
Tooth pulp calcification usually manifests itself as small, rounded, stone-like accumulations of calcium. These stones may develop in the crown of the tooth, in the roots, or in both areas. Any tooth can develop calcification in the pulp chamber, although many stones may prove difficult or even impossible to view on standard X-rays.
You most likely won’t experience any pain or unusual sensations due to tooth pulp calcification. However, a tooth affected by this condition may darken, growing increasingly yellowish in color.
Tooth pulp calcification appears to occur with surprising frequency. Studies suggest that the condition occurs in 66 percent of dental patients aged 10 to 30, 80 percent of dental patients aged 30 to 50, and 90 percent of dental patients aged 50 and older.
2. Why Does Tooth Pulp Calcify?
No one knows for certain why tooth pulp calcification occurs so frequently. However, analysis of extracted teeth with pulp stones indicates that they have a higher than usual level of certain bacteria, indicating that this bacteria might prompt the stones’ development over time.
Trauma to a tooth can sometimes lead to calcification of the pulp chamber. Research suggests that up to 24 percent of all teeth that suffer damage from sports injuries and other accidents eventually develop pulp calcification. This change in the tooth can sometimes fill the entire pulp chamber with calcium.
3. When Might Tooth Pulp Calcification Present a Problem?
As noted above, tooth pulp calcification may not affect your daily life, comfort, or dental function in any way, even if the affected teeth appear less attractive than you might like. However, things become more complicated if you develop an infected tooth that requires root canal therapy.
Since smaller pulp stones may not appear on X-rays, your dentist may not even know about their presence until the root canal procedure has already begun. At that point, the calcium deposits may block the path of the tools used to extract the pulp from the roots, forcing the dentist to deal with them before proceeding.
4. How Do Dentists Deal With Tooth Pulp Calcification?
Dentists who discover pulp stones in the course of root canal therapy can use specialized drill points and ultrasonic tools to break up and remove the stones. Your dentist may also apply sodium hypochlorite, a chemical that can soften and dissolve calcium deposits in the pulp to make their extraction easier.
As for the cosmetic issues caused by tooth pulp calcification, you don’t have to live with prematurely yellowed teeth. Ask your dentist about options ranging from tooth bleaching to the installation of veneers or crowns that can help the affected teeth match the coloring of their neighbors.
Whatever the state of your tooth pulp and other tooth components, Accent Dental can make sure your teeth receive the best possible evaluation and care for many more years of comfortable function. If you’ve never visited our office before, download these forms to get a head start on the appointment process.