When it comes to reversing tooth damage, root canals and extractions are the most effective treatments. But when you’re in pain and worried about your oral health, you need expert advice from an experienced dentist to help you choose the right path.
Here, Dr. Shiva Salehi and our team at Madison Family Dental Group in Fair Oaks, California, take a closer look at root canals and extractions and explain how we make our treatment recommendations.
The essential question
Before we decide if you need a root canal or extraction, we ask one very important question: Can the tooth be saved?
We perform a root canal to save a tooth that’s suffered damage or disease but whose structure is still viable. Root canals also effectively address dead or infected pulp (the innermost layer of your tooth that provides blood flow).
When your tooth is excessively damaged, has a large cavity, or has a severe fracture (especially those that extend below the gum line), the structure of your tooth is compromised and it’s unlikely that we can save it. In those cases, extraction is often the best option.
What you can expect from an extraction
Getting an extraction (or “having your tooth pulled”) is a fairly simple, routine surgical procedure performed by a dentist or oral surgeon. Before the procedure begins, the extraction site is numbed with local anesthesia, and in many cases, you receive intravenous anesthesia, as well.
This ensures that you’re completely comfortable during the extraction and that you only experience pressure and not pain as your tooth is removed.
But because extractions require invasive maneuvers, post-operative symptoms, and time in recovery, we only suggest them in the worst-case scenarios.
Many infected or damaged teeth can be addressed with a root canal, and in some cases, we can use it in place of extraction. Here’s what you can expect from a root canal.
What to expect from a root canal
Root canals are simple, routine procedures, and, despite what you may have heard, they’re not painful. During your procedure, Dr. Salehi carefully creates a small opening in the affected tooth, which allows her to remove the dead or disease pulp.
Then, she thoroughly cleans and dries the empty chamber before filling it with a biocompatible rubber-like material called gutta-percha. An adhesive seals the opening until you return for a crown a few weeks later. To avoid fracture while you wait for the crown, we encourage you to avoid chewing or biting down on the treated tooth.
At the Madison Family Dental Group, we use the most advanced technologies and anesthesia, so your procedure is as quick and painless as possible.
Immediately following your root canal, you may have some tooth sensitivity, but this and other side effects are mild and easily managed with over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Once your tooth is fully healed and the crown is securely in place, you’re free to chew normally and go through your complete oral hygiene routine.
Don’t leave your oral health up to chance — get advice from an expert. If you think your tooth is in trouble, call our office or schedule an appointment online today.