Sometimes tooth decay and tooth cracks can be so severe that the damage extends to the nerve of your tooth, resulting in pain and even infection. When a tooth filling isn’t a viable option to treat the problem, your dentist will typically recommend root canal treatment. While a tooth extraction can also be an effective option at times, it may not be best for your dental issue.
So, how do you know if you should get a root canal or an extraction? While only a skilled dentist can help you decide for sure, this article will clue you in on both treatment options to help you understand which may be appropriate for your specific needs.
When Should You Get a Root Canal?
At the end of the day, your dentist wants to do everything in her power to save your natural tooth. This is why root canal treatment is highly recommended over tooth extractions in many cases. A root canal allows your dentist to save much of your natural tooth structure while restoring your damaged tooth to its original shape and functionality.
A root canal may be right for you if:
- Your tooth pulp is inflamed
- You have a tooth abscess or infection
- You have deep tooth decay
- You have had repeated dental procedures on your tooth
- You have a cracked or chipped tooth
- You have pulp damage due to an injury
How a Root Canal Works
Root canal therapy, or endodontic treatment, is often completed in two visits. Here’s what to expect:
- Your dentist will examine and x-ray your tooth to see exactly how far the damage extends. A local anesthetic will then be administered to ensure that the area is numb and you don’t feel a thing during your procedure.
- A dental dam will be placed over the tooth in order to isolate it and keep your saliva from impacting the procedure.
- Your dentist will create a root canal access opening in the crown of your tooth using special dental instruments. From there, your inflamed or infected tooth pulp will be cleaned out and prepped for the root canal filling.
- Your tooth’s root canals will be filled with a rubber-like material and placed with an adhesive cement. This will ensure that the root canals are sealed completely.
- A temporary filling is then placed to close the opening. This will keep your tooth protected between visits.
- During a follow up visit, your dentist will place a dental crown or another type of restoration to protect and restore your tooth to full functionality.
At times, your dentist may also need to place a post inside your tooth. This only happens if your tooth lacks enough structure to hold your crown or other restoration in place.
When Should Teeth Be Extracted?
Before you have a tooth extracted, you must know that this procedure results in permanent implications. Some patients opt to get extractions instead of root canals since they can be a more affordable option (initially). The downside is that the space created by having your tooth pulled means that your surrounding teeth can shift over time and cause major dental problems. This is why your dentist will recommend you also get a dental implant or dental bridge to replace your tooth after it is pulled. That said, dentists also recommend extractions over root canals if it makes sense for certain dental issues.
An extraction may be right for you if:
- You have an impacted tooth. This means your tooth has grown or moved to an incorrect position.
- Your teeth are overcrowded
- You have a tooth infection so severe that root canal therapy and antibiotics can’t help. This means that your dentist will have no other choice but to extract tooth.
- You have a severely broken or cracked tooth that can’t be saved.
- You have gum disease which has caused your teeth to become loose.
- You have an infected tooth and a compromised immune system from chemotherapy or an organ transplant.
How a Tooth Extraction Works
- Your dentist will first inject a local anesthetic to numb the area. This will ensure that no pain is felt during the procedure. If you are having an impacted tooth removed, or more than one tooth is being extracted at once, your dentist may also administer a general anesthetic so you can sleep through the treatment.
- Your dentist will use forceps to take hold of the tooth. If you have an impacted tooth, your dentist will cut away bone and gum tissue that is covering the tooth before using the forceps.
- Your dentist will rock your tooth to loosen it from your jaw bone and ligaments. At times, your dentist may need to remove the tooth in smaller pieces.
- After your tooth has been extracted, a blood clot will form in the tooth socket. Your dentist will pack gauze into the area and you will bite down to stop the bleeding from the procedure.
- Self-dissolving stitches may be placed in order to close the gum edges over the extraction site.
Remember: The above information points are to be used as general guidelines and you SHOULD NOT use this information to determine anything yourself. If you think you need a root canal or an extraction, contact Capstone Dental to schedule a thorough dental exam. Our dentists can give you an expert opinion and diagnosis to put you on an endodontic treatment plan that fits your specific dental needs.
Root Canal Treatment and Tooth Extractions in Columbus Ohio
Whether you need a root canal or an extraction, our skilled dentists at Capstone Dental can offer you the best endodontic therapy solutions. We use only the most modern dental technologies to ensure you have the best treatment possible. If you have a cracked, broken or painful tooth, contact us today to find out if a root canal or extraction may be right for you.