If you have a heavily decayed or damaged tooth, a root canal treatment or tooth extraction may be your best option. Root canals and tooth extractions are two dental procedures to address a damaged or infected tooth. Your dentist will discuss the recommended choice for you, but it is good to understand more about both choices.
The key difference between the two procedures is that a root canal treatment is designed to save a damaged tooth while an extraction removes it, usually when it cannot be saved, to prevent issues from spreading to adjacent teeth, gums, and bone.
There are times when a tooth cannot be saved and needs to be removed. If you have a cavity that is so large it weakens your tooth structure too much, or if the tooth is severely fractured, tooth extraction may be necessary. If the tooth is cracked below the gum line, or if it is an impacted wisdom tooth, tooth extraction is often the best option.
Extraction is the procedure to remove the affected tooth entirely. For extraction, the injured or infected tooth is removed from its socket in the jawbone.
Tooth Extraction Procedure
A local anesthetic is used to make the procedure comfortable, so you won't feel any pain. Forceps are used to extract the tooth in most cases, although other methods may be used as necessary. After it is extracted, gauze will be placed for you to bite on to stop the bleeding. A stitch or suture may be used as well.
Some bleeding and swelling are expected for about a day. Ice packs can help reduce inflammation, and over-the-counter pain medications help with any discomfort. Your dentist will provide you with full post-procedure instructions. It can take a couple of weeks for the extraction site to heal.
Root Canal Treatment To Save An Infected Tooth
A root canal treatment saves an infected tooth with damaged, diseased, or dead pulp in the roots. The dental pulp consists of the tissues, nerves, and blood vessels in the tooth root areas. The root canal treatment removes the infected pulp and involves applying antibiotic wash to kill off all infections.
X-rays will confirm the state of your tooth and the extent and location of tooth decay, to determine if a root canal treatment is a good option.
Root Canal Treatment Procedure
After using local anesthesia, your dentist opens a tiny hole in the infected tooth and carefully clears away the dead, diseased, or damaged pulp. The cleared-out root canal chambers are carefully cleaned to ensure no bacteria or damaged tissue remains. The cleared area is then filled with dental material to replace the damaged pulp.
The cleaning process may take a couple of visits to ensure the canals are completely cleared. Your dentist may place a crown, or cap over your tooth to strengthen your tooth's structure, which may require an additional visit, as well.
Afterward, pain should be manageable with an over-the-counter painkiller, and only last for a few days.
Advantages Of Root Canals Over Tooth Extraction
The key advantage of a root canal vs extraction is that it allows you to keep your natural tooth; there are several oral health advantages associated with saving a tooth.
A missing tooth can be replaced by implants or other devices, but your own tooth is better for oral health. Also, healing from an extracted tooth takes longer than a root canal, and more dental procedures may be required afterward to maintain oral health.
Prevents Shifting and Damage To Other Teeth
When a tooth is extracted, a gap remains, which allows neighboring teeth to start to shift in the mouth, causing misalignment. This tends to lead to damage and tooth decay in the remaining teeth. A bridge or dental implant helps prevent the shifting, however.
Food can get trapped in this gap, encouraging bacteria development, which aggravates the situation.
Missing teeth cause difficulties when eating and speaking, potentially causing embarrassment, as well. Dental implants and dental bridges can help with functionality.
When a tooth has been extracted the bone in that area immediately starts to suffer bone loss. This may lead to facial structure deterioration. Bone grafts may be necessary. Dental implants can prevent this process, however, as the implant post mimics the action of a tooth root.
Is Leaving A Tooth Untreated An Option?
Not treating an affected tooth at all is not an option, as it will simply allow the situation to worsen. The tooth's structure will degrade further, and infection will spread to other teeth and areas of the mouth. The pain will become very extreme, and an emergency dental visit will become necessary.
If you are experiencing symptoms, such as pain, fever, sensitivity, and swelling, you should seek treatment. Tooth Buds Dentistry prioritizes saving a natural tooth whenever possible, for your overall oral health; we perform root canal treatments to save your tooth, if feasible. Where necessary, we perform tooth extractions, including wisdom teeth extractions, when it is the best option. We will always discuss your treatment options with you, as well as tooth replacement options, if necessary.