Root Canal vs. Extraction: Which Should You Choose?
Taking care of your teeth as part of a total health and wellness plan should be a priority. Unfortunately, for many of us, we seldom put this task on the top of our care list until we are experiencing painful tooth sensitivity and discomfort. Over 30 million Americans suffer from some form of periodontal disease and decay; over time, this degeneration can have dire consequences on our total body health.
When considering root canal vs. extraction procedures, it is important to know a bit about each, and what the implications are regarding follow up care and additional steps that will be needed to restore your mouth to health once more. Getting to your dentist at the first signs of pain and discomfort will be essential in properly diagnosing and treating your condition. Your dentist will likely uncover the cause of your pain and diagnose as some form of tooth decay or gum disease. Regardless of the cause of your discomfort, treating it promptly will help you to preserve and protect the health of the rest of your mouth.
What to Know About Root Canals
Root canals have gotten a bad rap—people have horrifying stories about procedures gone wrong, infections that linger long after treatment has been administered, and how they weaken structures in the mouth. Rest assured, today’s root canal is a highly advanced procedure that allows the patient to keep natural tooth structures at the surface while cleaning out dead and diseased tissue in the gumline.
If the inner, soft pulp of your tooth is damaged or beyond repair, a root canal may be the only way to save your tooth. A root canal involves cutting deep into the gum line and removing all the diseased and decayed tissue, then filling it with composite material to keep this area clean and infection-free. The top tooth is then fortified and made stronger to protect this area of the mouth and restore it to its former function. When considering root canal vs. extraction, consider where the tooth is in the mouth, and to what degree it will be used after the procedure. Ask your dentist any questions that you have about root canal tooth extraction to ensure that you understand possible complications and risks that can arise from this minor surgical intervention.
Do I Need a Root Canal or Extraction?
How do you know if you need a root canal or extraction? When looking at the root canal or extraction options, your dentist will likely recommend saving the tooth if there is enough substance in place to do so. In this case, a root canal would clean out diseased tissue and decay very efficiently while allowing you to retain your natural tooth structure. There may be situations, however, when the tooth or teeth are too far gone to be saved; it is in these situations that a tooth should be extracted to allow surrounding structures to heal and begin to restore themselves. It might not be desirable to consider either root canal or extraction, but the overall health of your mouth and your total health and wellness supersedes any short term discomfort you may feel as a result of undergoing these procedures.
When You Might Need a Tooth Extraction
If decay and disease in a tooth is too deep, or there are simply is not enough structure on the surface of the tooth in order for it to retain its function, it is best that it be removed.
A tooth extraction is the complete removal of a tooth and surrounding diseased tissue to restore health to that area of the mouth. Extraction will leave you with a void in the gum tissue that will be filled by shifting teeth, so it is important to have a plan in place to replace that tooth to prevent this shifting from occurring. Although extraction is a less expensive process to begin with, the long term consequences of not placing a bridge or implant in place will be more costly if they are not dealt with.
Tooth Replacement Options
In the event that you do have to extract a tooth, you have several options for replacement. They include:
- Dental implants–individual teeth that are anchored into existing gums and bone tissue
- Implant-supported dentures–designed for areas of the mouth missing one or more teeth
- Bridges–artificial tooth structures that fit onto gums and anchor to existing teeth
- Removable dentures–artificial teeth that can be removed when not in use
- Flippers–single tooth dentures that are designed as a temporary solution until something more permanent can be placed
Talk to your dentist about your options, including treatment time, cost, and insurance coverage, to make sure you are prepared for these treatments.
Symptoms of a Dental Problem
Early treatment of any dental problem is an essential part of proper treatment and restoration of gums and teeth. Recognizing signs and symptoms of decay will be critical to early diagnosis and prompt treatment. Signs of dental distress include:
- Persistent bad breath
- Red and swollen gums
- Tenderness, pain, and bleeding
- Tooth pain and sensitivity
- Loose or sensitive teeth
- Receding gums
- Swollen cheeks or glands in the neck and face
- Tooth loss
Practicing good oral hygiene habits at home and making regular trips to your dentist will help keep decay at bay and provide you with the tools needed to optimize your oral health.
What is Best: Root Canal or Tooth Extraction?
When looking at the root canal or extraction options, your dentist will likely recommend saving the tooth if there is enough substance in place to do so. In this case, a root canal would clean out diseased tissue and decay very efficiently while allowing you to retain your natural tooth structure. There may be situations, however, when the tooth or teeth are too far gone to be saved; it is in these situations that a tooth should be extracted to allow surrounding structures to heal and begin to restore themselves. It might not be desirable to consider either root canal or extraction, but the overall health of your mouth and your total health and wellness supersedes any short term discomfort you may feel as a result of undergoing these procedures.
Preventing a Root Canal or Extraction
Early detection is key to keeping infection at bay and helping to restore tissues in your mouth. A diseased and infected mouth have their roots in the development of other diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Keeping your mouth in top condition should be considered part of your total health and wellness plan. When considering root canal versus extraction, have a conversation with your dentist; the two of you can design a care plan and follow up preventative measures to restore the health of your mouth and safeguard your whole body. Here’s to your brightest smile and your most vibrant health!