What Causes a Jaw Bone Infection From a Root Canal?

When a dentist performs a root canal on a tooth, he sterilizes the infected tooth and removes approximately an inch of infected nerve from the area, but he cannot remove the tubules in the tooth that retain dead nerve tissue, which is possibly infected with bacteria, explains Corinne Vizcarra, D.D.S. The bacteria, and resulting toxins, left behind in the tubules can escape the tooth and infect the rest of the body, including the jaw.

A tooth is composed of enamel, pulp and dentin, which comprises approximately 90 percent of the tooth, and is made up of millions of tubules that connect the pulp to the enamel, notes Dr. Vizcarra. These tubules can house a plethora of bacteria, yeast and fungi, but neither the immune system or antibiotics can get inside these tubules to kill the bacteria. The bacteria left behind in the tooth can create thio-ethers, thio-ethanols and mercaptans, which are highly toxic substances.

A root canal essentially kills the tooth, which leads to a lack of blood circulation and lympathic drainage at the site of the dead tooth, states Dr. Vizcarra. As a result, any bacteria and toxins in the dead tooth must drain down into the jaw bone and from there to the rest of the body, as they have nowhere else to go, resulting in infection and potential bone loss in the jaw and other parts of the body.