Root canals have a bad reputation. Many people delay visiting their dentist because of the misconception that the procedure will cause extreme pain and possibly illness. Depending on why a root canal is recommended, delaying can reduce your chances of saving your tooth.
Despite the need to preserve adult teeth, the fear surrounding a root canal has some persons concluding an extraction would be the better option. Having the facts can help allay your fears.
The root canal procedure
Before your root canal treatment, your dentist will take a series of X-rays to assess the damaged areas of your tooth. Root canal treatments are carried out under local anesthesia, which will be administered before the start of your treatment to help you feel comfortable throughout the procedure.
To begin, a rubber vinyl, typically called a dam, is placed around the infected tooth. This is to protect the surrounding teeth and prevent you from swallowing or breathing any chemicals or bacteria. Your dentist will then create a small hole in the enamel of your tooth and remove the inner nerves, or pulp tissue. The remaining canal will then be cleaned and disinfected. Once the area is clean, the cavity will be filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. After, the tooth’s surface is restored with a filling or crown. The procedure is done in one visit and lasts about an hour.
The extraction procedure
Tooth extractions may be necessary for several reasons. Infection from tooth decay that has spread to the pulp and gums may become unresponsive to antibiotics. An extraction would then be required to avoid further spread of the infection.
Another reason an extraction would be necessary is in preparation for an orthodontic procedure. If there is an issue with teeth being too big, or there is overcrowding, the removal of a tooth or teeth will allow for better alignment during the procedure.
Extractions, like root canal therapy, are carried out under local anesthesia. Your dentist will administer the anesthetic, usually by injection, before the start of the extraction process. There are two kinds of extraction procedures:
- A simple extraction involves the use of a tool called the elevator to loosen the tooth from the jawbone and forceps for pulling the tooth from its socket.
- A surgical extraction is a more complicated procedure for persons with damaged teeth that may have broken off at the gum line or teeth that have not fully erupted from the gum. A small incision is made in the gum, and the tooth is then removed. Sometimes, it may also be necessary to cut the tooth in pieces to remove it. The site is stitched with self-dissolving stitches to close the wound so that it can heal properly.
Barring complications, the procedure can take 20 to 40 minutes.
Pain and recovery
With today’s modern technologies, patients are six times more likely to report a root canal procedure as painless when compared to having a tooth extracted.
A root canal and an extraction both eliminate the inflammation that caused pain and infection in the mouth. A root canal, however, maintains your natural tooth. This results in quicker recovery time than extraction. The discomfort from a root canal passes in one or two days, with little or no dietary constraints. After an extraction, there may be pain and swelling. You may also be required to avoid certain foods and chewing in that area to reduce the risk of infection.
The risk of infection is high after tooth extraction. The space left behind can be a breeding ground for bacteria that can result in future infections and additional extractions. After an extraction, it is possible for the blood clot that formed during the procedure to break away, exposing bone. This condition, known as dry socket, can be painful and would require redressing of the area to encourage a new clot to form.
Root canals are not without complications. If pulp tissue is left behind and sealed within the tooth, reinfection can occur. Infections can also develop if the canals are not sealed properly and allow bacteria to seep in.
After a root canal, your devitalized tooth is more fragile and prone to chipping due to a lack of circulation. Maintaining your normal oral hygiene regimen will go a long way in preserving your oral health and the longevity of your tooth.
Multiple dental visits following your extraction may be required to ensure the site is healing. Your dentist will also need to evaluate the effect on your jaw and other teeth. With the loss of a tooth, other dental procedures, such as a dental implant or bridge, may need to be considered. These options provide support for your other teeth and prevent them from drifting into the new space. It will also prevent jawbone degeneration, which is typical after a tooth is lost.
Initial costs for a root canal are more expensive than that of tooth extraction. However, extractions may lead to additional dental work. Extractions may also require more dental visits, thus driving up the associated costs.
Are you considering a root canal or tooth extraction in Slidell?
Preserving your tooth is a priority for your oral health. With a root canal, you can maintain the functionality of your tooth and the natural appearance of your smile.
At Fremaux Dental Care Clinic – Slidell, LA, our experienced dentists are ready to consult with you if you are considering a root canal in Slidell. And if your tooth is too damaged to be saved, we offer tooth extraction services as well.