Root Canal vs Extraction

happy woman in a dental clinic

If you have a tooth that is very severely decayed or damaged, our dentist may suggest root canal treatment or, if the tooth is really beyond saving, extraction. In some instances, our dentist may ask you if you would like to try root canal to see if it is successful before using extraction as a last resort.

To help you decide which course of action you prefer you need to understand exactly what is involved in each option. Here is our guide to root canal vs extraction.

What is root canal?

Root canal has one of the worst reputations of any dental treatment. However, the tools and techniques used have improved a great deal over the years and today root canal is no more painful than any other type of dental treatment.

Root canal is a dental procedure performed with the intention of repairing a damaged tooth or eliminating a tooth infection without needing to extract it. During the procedure, the damaged part of the inside of the tooth is removed, and the pulp is cleaned and disinfected to ensure that all traces of infection are gone. It can then be sealed, using either a large cavity filling or, as is the case in most instances, a dental crown. This restores the shape and function of the tooth while protecting it from further damage or decay.

The procedure itself is fairly straightforward and performed using a local anesthetic. Those patients who suffer from dental anxiety may be able to have a sedative to help them remain calm and still during the procedure – you will have to enquire with our dentist if this is a possibility.

Often root canal requires multiple visits to our dentist so that he/she can be certain that all traces of infection have been removed. The permanent filling or crown will not be placed until our dentist is satisfied that your tooth is healthy again.

What is a dental extraction?

A dental extraction involves removing the tooth from your mouth – permanently. This is often recommended if a tooth is beyond saving as leaving an infected or damaged tooth in the mouth can lead to further dental problems.

There are two types of extraction, simple and surgical. In a simple extraction, the tooth is loosened using a tool called an elevator. This widens the socket that contains the tooth so that it can be removed, which happens using forceps. The tooth is then removed whole and discarded.

A surgical extraction is a little more complicated. This style of extraction is normally used when the damaged tooth is broken at the gum line or partially impacted. Incisions may need to be made into the gum to forcibly remove the tooth, and as such, sutures may be required afterwards.

Both surgical and non-surgical extractions are performed using anesthetic, and again, sedation may be a possibility. Recovery from a surgical extraction can take several days or more, and our dentist may want to monitor the healing of your wounds.

What can I do about my missing tooth?

If you opt for extraction you are undoubtedly concerned about having a gap in your smile. Fortunately, there are several options available to you which can replace the missing tooth with a prosthetic, thus restoring the function and appearance of your smile – dental bridge or dental implant. Our dentist will be happy to explain to you what is involved with both solutions so that you can make an informed decision as to which is right for you. Contact us today for further advice.