To treat a severely decayed or damaged tooth, you’ll need either a root canal or an extraction. But which one is the right choice for you?
You should never ignore a throbbing, persistent toothache. It indicates a tooth so severely decayed or damaged it requires extensive therapy beyond a cavity filling. But what does that treatment entail?
Fortunately, you have two good options. You can undergo either a root canal or an extraction. Both effectively relieve pain and restore full function to your mouth so you can speak and chew with ease. Your dentist will make a recommendation after a thorough examination of the tooth. To help you understand the decision, let’s look at factors determining which method is better suited for you.
Root canal vs. extraction
Whether you need a root canal or extraction depends on how far the decay has spread into the tooth or the extent of the damage to the tooth. An X-ray will provide a clear picture of the tooth’s condition. Then, it’s time to start a root canal or an extraction.
Root Canal. The pulp, a concentrated mass of nerves, blood vessels, and tissue, lies deep inside the tooth. Covered by enamel and dentin, the pulp allows the tooth to grow and remain healthy. However, decay may penetrate beyond the enamel and dentin into the pulp. A significant crack in the tooth may also damage the pulp. In either case, the tooth becomes infected, painful, and sensitive to hot and cold.
Even with a significant cavity, enough of your natural tooth remains intact and can be saved through a root canal. Your dentist will numb your tooth before the procedure so you won’t feel any pain. The dentist will then remove the diseased pulp and clean the pulp’s chambers of any leftover bacteria. A dental material seals the empty area where the pulp was.
You’ll need to visit your dentist several times to complete the root canal. The final step involves the placement of a crown to restore the shape and function of the tooth. After the initial root canal, you may feel sore for a day or two. Pain medication can reduce discomfort.
Extraction. A tooth compromised by a deep cavity or significant fracture cannot be saved, and an extraction is necessary. If the crack in the tooth lies below the gum line, it will need to be removed.
Similar to a root canal, an anesthetic will numb the area around the damaged tooth. A lever-like appliance known as an elevator will loosen the tooth from its socket. Then, forceps will pull out the tooth. At that point, you may have a slight feeling of pressure but no pain.
To stop the bleeding, you’ll bite down on a gauze pad for about 45 minutes. You may experience some minor bleeding and swelling for 24 hours, which is normal.
The extraction site should heal in about two weeks. To protect the area from further irritation and promote recovery, eat soft, cold foods and keep your toothbrush away from the site. Because you’ll need to replace the extracted tooth to maintain your bite surface and keep nearby teeth in alignment, your dentist will recommend a dental bridge or implant.
A root canal and extraction are both viable methods to restore your complete tooth structure and eliminate pain. You really can’t go wrong with either one!
Have a toothache? Let us help!
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Oklahoma City location today! Our highly trained dentists can check your teeth to see if you need a root canal or an extraction. Each is a painless, effective procedure to remove an aching tooth. Don’t live near our Oklahoma City office? Find one of our other locations near you.
Oklahoma City, OK
12448 St Andrews Drive
Oklahoma City, OK 73120