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Dental Health

Root Canal vs Extraction: Explained

When a tooth develops a deep infection, the patient is often presented with two choices. They can either have a root canal to save the tooth, or they can extract the tooth and choose dental restoration.

Since root canal treatment has such a bad reputation for being painful, we know why patients will often lead towards an extraction. However, we believe there are benefits to saving the tooth, and extraction should only be recommended in very rare situations.

If you’ve been asked to choose between a root canal and an extraction, here are the key points you will need to consider before making a final decision.

Root canal versus extraction

The root canal treatment can help to save a badly decaying tooth. This procedure works by exposing the roots of the tooth and cleaning out the canals. Infected tissue is removed from the tooth and then the canals are cleaned. Next, they are filled with a dental cement to reinforce them and then topped with a filling or crown.

With an extraction, the entire tooth is removed. This procedure involves gripping the tooth and rocking it back and forth in the socket. Eventually, it will come loose and can be removed. On rare occasions, the tooth could break and individual roots will need to be removed surgically by exposing the gum.

When choosing between the two treatments, you should consider the following:

When to choose a root canal

We nearly always recommend saving the original tooth rather than opting for an extraction. Prevention is always better than cure. If you remove the tooth and don’t replace it, you leave yourself vulnerable to issues further down the line.

If you remove the tooth and opt for a replacement, you’ll have to pay for further treatment, and this will often be more expensive than the original root canal treatment.

Root canal treatment has a very high success rate and the tooth could last for a further 20 years or more. We recommend this treatment plan if there is a good chance of saving the tooth. Your own tooth will always be superior to a replacement.

If you are nervous about root canal treatment, don’t let this hold you back. Speak to your dentist about what they can do to help put you at ease. While an extraction would be quicker, you don’t have to limit your choices because of a dental phobia. There are plenty of things that can be done to make a root canal less daunting.

When to choose extraction

There are some situations where an extraction would be more sensible. This includes when the tooth is very badly damaged by decay or if the root canal treatment is likely to fail.

If the tooth has already become dark and brittle, it might not be worth saving this tooth. In this situation, you would be better off extracting the tooth and then replacing it with a bridge, denture or dental implant.

You might also choose an extraction after multiple failed root canals. If there has been damage to the tooth root, extraction might be a safer choice.

You might also choose an extraction if you already have overcrowding. Impacted teeth can become infected and it would be more sensible to remove them rather than attempt to save them. You could then opt for orthodontics to close the gap in your smile.

Restoring your teeth after extraction

If you do opt for an extraction, it’s important to follow-up this treatment with a restoration as soon as the site has healed. If you leave a gap in your smile, you will not only damage your confidence, but you could also face issues down the line.

A gap in your smile can cause the surrounding teeth to shift. It can also cause your gums to recede, leaving the surrounding teeth more exposed. This could lead to further tooth loss. Another common issue of leaving a gap in your smile is that you might favour chewing on one side, which can lead to asymmetry in your face.

Before choosing an extraction, make sure you have a plan with your dentist to replace the missing tooth. This will help to avoid issues associated with losing teeth.

Call us now to make an appointment

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