Root Canal or Tooth Extraction? Empower your Dental Choice
Severe tooth pain can be the result of an infection or damage to your tooth’s pulp. When this happens, your dentist will recommend treatment. Depending on how bad the infection is, you might be presented with two options: save the tooth with a root canal or remove the tooth all together.
Before you choose a procedure, it’s important to know what you’re signing up for. Root canals and tooth extractions have two very different outcomes, and both have their own pros and cons. Here’s what you should know about each procedure.
How do root canals and tooth extractions different?
Root canal and tooth extractions are both treatments for an infected tooth, but with very different outcomes. An extraction deals with the infection by removing the tooth completely. A root canal removes the damaged tissue and nerve from inside the tooth.
While saving an infected tooth is usually recommended, there are still cases when extraction is the better option.
What happens during a root canal?
Many people wince at the word ‘root canal.’ What used to be a long, painful procedure is now much faster thanks to changing technology and more pain relief options. While you may experience some discomfort in the days following treatment, the procedure is performed with pain relief and will be over before you know it.
During the root canal your dentist will numb your mouth and remove the infected pulp. They will clean the pulp chambers to remove all bacteria from inside the tooth. Your tooth is then sealed to prevent reinfection. A crown is sometimes placed on top of the tooth for extra strength.
Why choose a root canal over an extraction?
One big advantage of root canal treatment is that it allows you to keep your natural tooth. Dentists don’t like to extract teeth unless they have to. Preserving your tooth through a root canal has many benefits. With your natural tooth still in place you’ll:
- Maintain proper chewing function
- Prevent your neighbouring teeth from shifting
- Preserve the strength of your jawbone
Root canal treatment is also less invasive over the long term than tooth extraction. Once a tooth is removed, you also need to consider replacement options such as a dental implant or bridge. These procedures typically make extraction a more expensive procedure.
What happens during a tooth extraction?
Your dentist might recommend a tooth extraction if your tooth is beyond repair. Tooth extractions can be straightforward or a bit more complicated if the tooth is impacted in any way.
During a simple extraction where the tooth is fully erupted, your dentist will remove your tooth from the socket. If the tooth is impacted, your dentist will make an incision to access the partially or fully impacted tooth. In some cases, they will break the tooth into parts before removing it.
Tooth extractions are performed under a range of anaesthesia options ranging from local anaesthesia to oral sedation. It can take two weeks for your mouth to fully heal from tooth extraction.
Why choose an extraction over a root canal?
The success of a root canal depends on lots of factors including the extent of the infection, the structural integrity of the tooth and the oral health of the patient. Unfortunately, in serious cases of infection, the natural tooth can’t always be saved.
In some cases, a patient isn’t a good candidate for a root canal and it’s better to extract the tooth altogether. Root canals are also hard to perform on teeth at the back of the mouth.
There are still benefits to having a tooth extracted. It provides immediate relief from severe pain or infection, can prevent the spread of infection and is more cost effective than root canal treatment.
What should you consider before getting a tooth extracted?
Tooth extraction can be a cheaper choice, but extracting a tooth from your mouth can have unintended consequences if you don’t fill the gap left behind. The adjacent teeth can start to move, and this can lead to problems with your bite. The jawbone at the extraction site can also weaken over time. After an extraction, it’s important to consider tooth replacement options such as a dental implant or bridge.
Still need help deciding?
The best way to choose a dental procedure is to talk through the pros and cons of each treatment with your dentist. At Gentle Dental, we can talk you through the procedure, cost and outcomes of a tooth extraction or a root canal at your appointment. Book an appointment now to get started.