Why Is Root Canal Therapy Better than Extraction?

When is root canal therapy necessary?

It is a Sunday morning and you cannot help but notice that despite your brushing, flossing, and mouthwash efforts, you can still sense a pungent smell in your mouth.  You are afraid to so much as kiss your children on the cheeks - for fear they too will notice your bad breath.

As the day progresses, so does that underlying and throbbing pain in the upper right quadrant of your mouth.  The "pimple" you popped the night before seemed to resolve some of the discomfort, but as you drink your morning brew - the tooth in that same quadrant seems to notice the heat sensation - and not in a nice way.

Realizing that this "situation" is not going away anytime soon, you realize it is time to visit your Boston Dentist.

Why is a root canal better than extraction?

Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function.

Having a root canal done on a tooth is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would die and have to be removed. Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the solution, but what is not realized is that extracting a tooth will ultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth.

Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although, on occasion, a tooth will have to be re-treated due to new infections.

Signs and symptoms of possible root canal therapy:

  • An abscess (or a pimple) on the gums
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Severe toothache pain
  • Swelling and/or tenderness
  • Sometimes no symptoms are present

Reasons for getting root canal therapy:

  • Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth)
  • Infection or abscess have developed inside the tooth or at the root tip
  • Injury or trauma to the tooth

What does getting a root canal involve?

A root canal procedure requires one or more appointments and can be performed by a dentist or endodontist. While the tooth is numb, a rubber dam will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva. An access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria. If tooth decay is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments.

Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it will be sealed with either a permanent filling or, if additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling will be placed.

At the next appointment, usually a week later, the roots and the inside cavity of the tooth will be filled and sealed with special dental materials. A filling will be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth. In addition, all teeth that have root canal treatment should have a crown placed. This will protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking and restore it to its full function.

After treatment, your tooth may still be sensitive, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed. You will be given care instructions after each appointment. Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will ensure your continued oral health and the long-lasting results of your root canal treatment.

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