Root Canal Therapy vs. Extractions
The most sensitive parts of the teeth are the central root canals, which house the collection of nerves and tissues, more commonly knowns as the “pulp” of the tooth. Fortunately, the tooth is designed so a layer of dentin and tooth enamel protect these sensitive parts of the tooth. Although these protective layers can become damaged, restorative dentistry treatments can rebuild tooth enamel to protect against dental complications.
Unfortunately, if dental damage is ignored, the nerves and roots of the tooth will be at risk, and a root canal infection may develop. The two most common treatments for a root canal infection are root canal therapy and tooth extraction. Dr. Ann Sielicki discusses root canal therapy vs. extractions with her Scottsdale, AZ patients, and helps them determine which is most appropriate for their unique situation.
Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy is probably the most widely feared dental treatment, but also the most misunderstood. Root canal therapy is not the painful procedure that many people imagine it to be. Instead, it is a safe, virtually pain-free procedure that allows dentists to repair and save a tooth that is badly infected.
During root canal therapy, anesthesia is administered to maintain patient comfort. The pulp of the tooth will be removed before cleaning the length of the tooth roots. After all signs of infection have been eliminated, the cavity of the tooth will be filled with a rubber-like dental compound. This restores the inners canals of the tooth, but for superior strength and protection, we will cap the entire tooth with a dental crown. Recovery from root canal therapy is short, and most patients report minimal discomfort while they heal.
Extraction is performed to completely remove a tooth that has been badly damaged or infected. Tooth extraction is performed with the patient under the effects of anesthesia, to avoid pain and discomfort. Dental tools will be used to hold the damaged tooth and remove it from the gum line. The whole tooth, including the tooth roots will be removed.
Tooth extraction prevents adjacent teeth from being compromised by an infected tooth. However, it does leave a gap in the smile than can cause surrounding teeth to shift, so it is important to follow tooth extraction with a tooth replacement treatment, which may include a dental bridge or dental implants.
Which Is Best for Me?
The best way to decide whether root canal therapy or tooth extraction is most appropriate is to have the tooth examined to determine the extent of the root canal infection. In general, it is best to save the natural tooth whenever possible. The roots of the tooth provide the stimulation to the jawbone that is needed to maintain a strong and healthy jaw.
Having said that, there are cases when infection has spread so far that it is not possible to save the natural tooth. If the roots of the tooth have been severely damaged, it may be best to remove the damaged tooth and replace it with a dental restoration. Dr. Sielicki will provide patients with her expert recommendation after considering their unique situation.
If you are experiencing severe oral pain, you may be suffering from a root canal infection. To learn more about the best way to treat a root canal infection, contact us at your earliest convenience.