Tooth decay is a common tooth ailment that happens as a result of poor dental hygiene, contact injuries, or just regular wear and tear. If tooth decay is not addressed and treated early enough, then the decay can reach the pulp (nerves and blood vessels into the tooth). The two primary ways we treat decay extending into the pulp are root canal treatment or extraction. There is much debate over the better option, but both serve their purpose. The root canal specialists at Central Ohio Endodontics break it down so you can understand the pros and cons of a root canal vs. extraction.
Unfortunately, as much as 26% of Americans are plagued with untreated tooth decay. This aversion to seeking treatment generally stems from a fear of root canal treatment and tooth extraction. This fear can lead to varying degrees of anxiety in many patients, even though both procedures involve a local anesthetic that makes them virtually painless. We cover dental anxiety in another blog and provide several proven methods that help reduce anxiety in our patients.
What is a Root Canal?
When it comes to root canal vs. extraction, a root canal is the better option when possible. Root canal treatment is safer than extraction, and it allows the patient to keep their natural tooth. According to the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine, there are 41,000 root canals performed every day. Despite this, many people still don’t know what a root canal is.
A root canal is the best way to treat an infected or inflamed tooth. When the inside of a tooth, or the pulp, becomes infected, the patient typically experiences immense nerve pains. Before the root canal, our leading endodontists in Ohio will anesthetize the area to minimize discomfort.
After administering the local anesthetic, the surgeon exposes the inside of the tooth and then uses specialized tools to extract the infected pulp and disinfect the pulpal space. Once the damaged portion of the tooth is removed, the canals are disinfected and filled with a rubber-like filling called gutta percha which is coated with an antibacterial and biocompatible sealer cement called sealer.
What is Tooth Extraction?
While extraction is an effective way to treat an infected tooth, it brings other complications that aren’t present with a root canal. Extraction or simply removing a tooth can lead to future infections or even alter a patient’s physical appearance. As a result, we always suggest a root canal in cases where the natural tooth is worth saving.
Tooth extraction is necessary when the natural tooth is beyond saving, or the patient prefers an extraction over a root canal. Before an extraction, an oral surgeon or general dentist administers anesthesia and then simply pulls the tooth from its socket. After the procedure, there may be some pain, but the extraction itself is typically painless.
Unlike a root canal, an extraction leaves the patient with an open wound susceptible to further infections. If the patient fails to get some kind of replacement implant, the surrounding teeth will shift and move towards the empty socket.
Is it Better to Have a Root Canal or Extraction?
The best treatment option will differ from one patient to the next, but the general consensus is to save the natural tooth when possible. The success rate of a root canal is well over 90%, and the benefits of preserving the natural tooth are many.
Endodontic retreatment is another treatment modality in an endodontist’s arsenal that can help to save a tooth. If an existing root canal becomes re-infected with bacteria whether it is via another cavity-forming or a crack, for example, then the root canal can be re-done. This treatment also has a high success rate and is something that is done very successfully with the endodontic specialists at Central Ohio Endodontics.
At the more advanced stages of decay, when saving the natural tooth isn’t possible, an extraction may be necessary. While there are more risks involved with tooth extraction, it is still a relatively safe procedure.
The root canal specialists at Central Ohio Endodontics are here to provide the highest level of patient care to the people of Ohio. If you suffer from tooth decay, we can help you make the best decision about your future treatment. Contact our Worthington, Dublin, or Westerville office for more information on root canal vs. extraction and figure out which one is the best for you.