Root Canal vs. Tooth Extraction
When a tooth is irreparably damaged, dentists often have to decide between a root canal or extraction. Which is better? In cases when saving an infected tooth is possible, dentists often suggest root canal therapy as an alternative to extraction.
At Whiteman Dental Associates, Dr. Daniel Whiteman helps patients in Brookline and Boston, MA, understand why root canal therapy (RCT) is beneficial. Although dentists save millions of teeth annually by performing root canal therapy, it is not suitable for all internally infected teeth. Let’s discuss when one option may be better than another.
What Is Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal therapy is performed when the pulp within a tooth’s core becomes infected, but the tooth’s crown and root are salvageable.
To perform root canal therapy, the dentist creates a hole in the tooth and removes the infected pulp from the chamber at the center of the tooth. A synthetic material is placed into the chamber, then the entry point is sealed. Usually, a crown is placed on the tooth for added protection and durability.
Contemporary root canal treatments are relatively unproblematic and highly effective. The International Endodontic Journal reported that nearly 90% of single-visit root canal treatments are successful.
Along with saving the natural tooth, root canal therapy has many benefits, including:
- Deterring reinfection of the tooth
- Normalizing biting and chewing forces
- Retaining a balanced bit (good occlusion)
- Eliminating the need to replace the tooth
- Appearing natural and seamless
When Are Root Canal Treatments Recommended?
A survey organized by the American Association of Endodontists announced that over 95% of Americans claim that it’s important to save your natural teeth. Why? Among those surveyed, the top three reasons were health, aesthetics, and saving money.
Do you qualify for a root canal? Candidacy depends on:
- Why the tooth is infected
- How long the tooth has been infected
- What kind of inflammation is involved
- Whether the tooth’s structure is salvageable
A root canal is typically considered a dental emergency because infection can rapidly advance to make RCT impossible. Timing is key. As soon as patients feel acute dental pain, they should immediately visit the dentist.
When Should Teeth Be Removed?
Extraction is often considered a last resort. When damage compromises a tooth’s structure, it may be too weak to repair with a root canal. If the patient has delayed treatment and the tooth is too far gone to save, the dentist must pull it.
Here are some scenarios in which extraction is necessary:
- Large cavities
- Fractures that extend below the gumline
- Significant chips/breaks
Be Proactive About Your Oral Health
Are you experiencing severe discomfort while chewing or dental sensitivity to heat and cold? Have you spotted unusual darkening of or pimples on your gums? Are you suffering from deep dental decay or cracked, chipped teeth? Only a dentist can diagnose and treat your ailing tooth. If you notice any kind of discomfort, be sure to visit your dentist as soon as possible.
Schedule a Consultation
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, we suggest that you schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Call (617) 731-4746 in Brookline, MA, or message us online to book an appointment with Dr. Whiteman.