Root canals and tooth extractions are two procedures we can use to treat teeth that are damaged or infected in some way. Determine when to do a root canal vs. extraction can prove to be a difficult decision.
Root canals can be used to save teeth that have damaged, diseased or dead pulp, but are otherwise viable to your mouth. The pulp is the innermost layer of your teeth, providing healthy blood flow to each one, but it can become damaged if you crack your tooth or develop a deep cavity.
A root canal treatment is fairly simple: After numbing the area, we will make an opening in the affected tooth, then remove the diseased or dead pulp. Once the pulp has been removed, the pulp chambers will be carefully cleaned to make sure there’re no bacteria left behind. The pulp chambers will then be filled with a dental material that replaces your damaged pulp. And finally, a crown may be placed on top of the tooth to help restore its appearance and strength.
Sometimes we simply can’t save a tooth, and it needs to be removed. This may be the case if you have a very large cavity or a severe fracture that compromises too much of your tooth’s structure, making it too weak to repair. A tooth with a crack that extends down below the gumline, according to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), is a prime candidate for removal.
If you ultimately need the tooth extracted, we will first numb the area so you don’t feel any discomfort during the procedure. Next, we’ll use a lever-like tool known to loosen your tooth while it’s still in its socket. Forceps will then be used to officially extract the tooth.
After your tooth has been extracted, you’ll bite on a piece of gauze for up to 45 minutes to clot the blood flow that naturally occurs. Light bleeding for about 24 hours after the procedure is normal, as well as a bit of facial swelling
A treated and restored tooth can last a lifetime with proper care. Root canals have a high success rate. And well, once a tooth is gone…it’s gone. Remove too many and we’ll have to address different issues.
In general, both procedures will involve some pain, but root canal pain is short lived compared to an extraction.
In both cases, avoid chewing on hard foods – chewing on hard foods such as ice can cause teeth to break, can harm root canals, and/or irritate the extraction site and impair healing.