Root Canal Therapy vs. Tooth Extraction: Which Is Right for You?
Treating dental damage is essential for protecting oral health. In some cases, the only way to restore oral health is to extract a damaged tooth. Although extraction may be necessary, saving a tooth is always the preferred course of action. Root canal therapy may be an option in such cases.
When undergoing extraction or root canal therapy, restorative dentistry treatments may also be used to fully restore the smile and oral health. Drs. Jay W. Chrisman and David S. Wyse explain the difference between root canal therapy versus tooth extraction during consultations at their practice in Bloomington, IL. For more information, we welcome you to schedule a consultation.
When Can Teeth Be Saved with Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal therapy is an endodontic treatment used to restore oral health and prevent a damaged tooth from requiring extraction. Root canal therapy is specifically used to treat root canal infections. Root canal infections develop when bacteria are allowed to enter the inner chamber of the tooth, whether from decay or injury.
Bacteria can reach the tooth's nerves, which regulate dental sensitivity, and the blood vessels, which nourish the tooth, resulting in a painful root canal infection. If left untreated, root canal infections can lead to tooth loss either from the tooth dying and falling out on its own or from extraction.
When Is Extraction Necessary?
Extraction is necessary when dental damage is too severe for a damaged tooth to be restored. Extraction may be necessary when decay is so extensive that the remaining structure of the tooth is too weak to support a restoration. Extraction may also be necessary if a tooth is severely fractured or if a tooth is cracked below the gum line.
What to Expect during and after Root Canal Therapy?
During root canal therapy, the mouth is numbed and the tooth requiring treatment is opened to reach the infected tissues within the tooth. Next, the infected tissues are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned of all debris. The cleaned tooth is then filled with a special material called “gutta percha” to replace the removed tissues. A dental crown is often placed to protect the tooth from further damage and breakage.
After root canal therapy, it's common for patients to feel some pain for several days. Over-the-counter pain medication is often sufficient for relieving any discomfort after root canal therapy. After a few days, patients should no longer feel any pain or discomfort from the tooth itself as the nerves are removed during root canal therapy.
What to Expect during and after Tooth Extraction?
During tooth extraction, the mouth is numbed for patient comfort. The damaged tooth is then loosened with a tool called an elevator. Once loose, the tooth is gently held with forceps and pulled out of the socket.
After tooth extraction, patients may experience some discomfort and swelling as well as light bleeding for about 24 hours following treatment. Over-the-counter pain medication is often sufficient for alleviating pain, along with the application of ice packs to the jaw.
Additionally, patients will be given detailed aftercare instructions. Some general guidelines include:
- Stick to a soft diet to avoid irritating the extraction site.
- Do not use straws, smoke, or forcefully spit, as this can cause dry socket, a condition in which the protective blood clot becomes dislodged.
- Practice good oral hygiene to reduce the risk of infection, but avoid brushing the extraction site.
Find out Which Treatment Is Right for You
To find out if root canal therapy or extraction is right for you, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Drs. Chrisman and Wyse.