In Philadelphia’s mayoral election, Cherelle Parker worked hard to get ahead and stay ahead of the crowded field in the Democratic primary. She announced her candidacy more than a month before any other major contenders and campaigned right through election day. She knew in February that a prior root canal treatment was failing, but she did not feel she could make the time to have it treated.

However, dental problems cannot simply be ignored. They must eventually be dealt with, sometimes at the most inconvenient times. For Parker, this meant an emergency tooth extraction on the Friday before the election, then a trip to the emergency room on election day, forcing her to miss her victory party.

Philadelphia dentist Dr. Ken Siegel doesn’t treat Parker, but he has seen many similar cases in his office. Busy professionals postpone dental care only to find that it needs to be dealt with at the most inconvenient time. He recommends staying ahead of dental problems. He can help patients deal with dental problems as they arrive or even anticipate their development and take steps to prevent them from becoming problems.

Understanding Root Canal Therapy

The source of Parker’s dental problem was an old root canal treatment. Dentists use root canal therapy when the tooth’s interior, called the pulp chamber, is compromised. This is often because tooth decay penetrates the tooth, and bacteria infect the chamber. This can result in numerous symptoms, including:

  • Serious pain
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Swelling of the gums around the tooth
  • Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Pus oozing from the tooth or gums

Left untreated, the infection will not only kill the tooth, but it can spread from the tooth to the jawbone. From there, it can spread to other teeth. It can also lead to an infection of the sinuses, blood, or the brain. In rare cases, dental infections can turn deadly.

Root canal therapy treats a tooth infection by cleaning out the tooth. A dentist removes not only the infected tissue but all the living pulp from inside the tooth, filling it with an inert material that resists infection. Then the dentist closes the tooth with a filling or a dental crown.

A tooth can continue to function without the pulp for many years. Eventually, the filling or dental crown can fail, exposing the tooth to a risk of repeated infection. Teeth treated with root canal therapy may need to have their filling or crown replaced every 10 to 15 years to avoid problems. 

Parker Postponed Care

According to Parker, her problematic tooth received root canal therapy 25 years ago. This means that the tooth was long overdue for retreatment. Then at a dental appointment in February, Parker received the news that the treated tooth was failing and would need to be extracted.

However, Parker elected not to get treatment for the tooth so she could focus on her campaign. The problematic tooth continued to worsen until May 12, when Parker had to see her dentist for emergency treatment. Her dentist extracted the tooth, and she returned to campaigning. However, by May 16, the day of the Philadelphia mayoral primary, her symptoms had worsened again. She said, “By the time the polls closed on election night, everything caught up with me, and I had to stop.”

Early Treatment Gives Options

Parker was relatively lucky. Although her dental problems forced her to stop for care, they did not do so until very late in the campaign. However, she likely suffered through much of it. Although she eventually won the Democratic primary, she probably could have campaigned more effectively without dental pain.

Other people are not so lucky. Untreated dental issues can force you to stop for treatment at the most inopportune time. Instead of missing a victory party, you might miss an important presentation at work or be unable to attend a major sales conference.

Philadelphia dentist Dr. Siegel recommends getting a proactive dental evaluation before starting a major endeavor like a mayoral campaign. This would detect problems like a tooth treated with root canal therapy that is overdue for retreatment. Then they can be dealt with conveniently before they cause major problems. In Parker’s case, she had more than a month when she was the only major candidate in the field. Treatment then would not have impacted her campaign.

In addition, early treatment gives additional options. By the time Parker got treatment, she had no option: the problematic tooth had to be extracted. Early treatment might have allowed Parker to preserve the tooth. With tools like CEREC, she could have had a new dental crown on the tooth in a single visit.

Even if her tooth had to be extracted as early as September, Parker might have planned to replace the tooth with a dental implant. With advanced dental implant procedures, it only takes one appointment to extract a tooth and place a dental implant. Often, you can get a full replacement tooth that day. You need never suffer the pain of a compromised tooth, nor will you have a gap in your smile.

Dental Care in Philadelphia for Your Busy Life

Dr. Ken Siegel at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell understands that you’re busy and don’t want to spend more time than necessary on dental care. He works hard to anticipate problems before they arise so you can treat them efficiently without major disruptions to your schedule.

To learn how Dr. Siegel can help you avoid life-stopping dental emergencies, please call (610) 272-0828 or use our online form to request an appointment at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell, serving the Philadelphia area.