If you have a large amount of pain in a tooth, you might want an extraction. You might have a “just get rid of it!” attitude. And sometimes that is necessary. But a root canal treatment might be all that is needed to clean out a painful infection. With a root canal, the discomfort or pain can be relieved and the natural tooth structure can be saved.
It all depends on the details of your case. So, which is right for you? How do you think about each option?
Saving Tooth Form and Function With a Root Canal
The bottom two-thirds of every tooth is made up of roots that attach the tooth to the jaw. The inside of the tooth contains pulp, which is made of soft tissues, nerves, and blood vessels.
When tooth pulp is infected or damaged, the tooth structure can become increasingly damaged. It’s better to be rid of the pulp, which is not crucial for adults to have anyway. Cleaning out the pulp will only take away the sense of hot and cold in a tooth, but it can save your natural tooth.
The great news is that root canals have become routine these days. They feel about the same as getting a cavity cleaned.
For a root canal, your dentist will:
- Numb just the area affected.
- Use advanced tools to remove decay and infection from the inner tooth.
- Seal the tooth from further infection.
- Restore the function of your tooth.
You’ll be able to chew and smile again soon! Root canals can be relatively simple. We can finish one in a single appointment, in many cases.
Relieving the Problem With an Extraction
Sometimes, a tooth has suffered too much damage from decay or an accident for it to be saved. In cases like this, an extraction may be a better option to restore function to the damaged tooth and prevent the infection from spreading to the rest of your teeth and gums.
Your dentist will examine it and give you a recommendation. As dental health professionals, we want to save your natural teeth as often as possible, but we’ll always recommend the option that promotes your best oral health.
The Extraction Procedure
An extraction can proceed quickly and painlessly. A local anesthetic will keep you very comfortable throughout, even if you feel pressure.
Our specialized tools usually allow loosening and pulling a tooth to happen faster than you might expect. However, sometimes you’ll hear a popping or cracking noise. That is normal, and it will be over soon, once the tooth is out.
It can take some time for the gums and other tissues around the extraction to finish bleeding. The solution to this is simply to put pressure on it for a time. We’ll give you gauze to bite and instructions on how long to keep at it—along with other important directions to help the extraction area heal.
Your face might react to the extraction—with swelling slightly or bruising. The larger molars can cause this more than the smaller teeth. You can put an ice pack on your face for 15–20 minutes at a time to counteract this. You can also take pain reliever drugs as needed.
You’ll need a replacement tooth. We don’t recommend you living with an empty tooth socket for the rest of your life, which could become infected and make chewing and talking harder. Plus, the missing tooth can cause your other teeth to start moving out of their previous positions toward the socket. So, we’ll discuss your options for replacing the tooth.
Can We Save Your Tooth?
Even though a tooth implant, dental bridge, or partial dentures work wonderfully to replace a tooth, your natural tooth is still best for you. That’s why our first choice is always to save a tooth when possible!
The healing time after a root canal is much shorter than after an extraction. Plus, it takes more time and expenses to complete a tooth replacement rather than just sealing the root canal with a dental crown.
Call Creekside Endodontics to Relieve Tooth Pain
You can talk to Dr. Stubbs here at Creekside Endodontics if you have tooth pain. He will help you make this important decision—root canal or tooth extraction—calmly and rationally. If you’re hurting, call now for an appointment!