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Root Canal Therapy vs. Extraction: Which One Is Necessary?

By drparr on December 14, 2017


An x-ray of a molar tooth with root canal therapyIf you are experiencing a severe toothache or dental abscess, there is a good chance your dentist will discuss two treatment possibilities: root canal therapy vs. extraction. Your treatment will depend on several unique factors, which can be explored during an oral examination.

In many cases, a damaged or decayed tooth can be repaired with root canal therapy. While it is always preferable to save teeth when possible, sometimes the damage is simply too extensive. In these situations, an extraction may be recommended. At The Smile Center in Virginia Beach, VA, our doctors provide both procedures, and can help you determine which one is most appropriate to address your dental needs.

Exploring Root Canal Therapy

If a tooth has an infected or damaged pulp, root canal therapy is necessary. Pulp damage can occur due to trauma or because of deep decay. If a damaged tooth is otherwise healthy and can support a dental restoration, root canal therapy can be performed to save the tooth. It is important to note that in order to save a tooth, there must be sufficient healthy tooth structure remaining.

During root canal therapy, the internal structure of the tooth is accessed. After removing the diseased pulp, tissues, and nerves, the canals will be thoroughly disinfected to eradicate all residual bacteria. Once the canals are cleaned, they will be filled with a malleable dental material called gutta percha, and the tooth will be sealed off with a composite resin material. After a short healing period, a dental crown can be placed to protect the tooth.

When Should Teeth Be Extracted?

A damaged tooth that has a severe fracture, extensive decay, or a crack that extends down the root will need to be removed. If sufficient tooth structure is not present, root canal therapy may work for a short time, but will not be a long-lasting solution.

Extractions are typically more affordable than root canal therapy, but to understand the big picture, you must consider teeth replacement options as part of your treatment plan. Patients who have a tooth extracted have a few choices, which include:

  • Replace it with a dental implant. The next best thing to a natural tooth is a dental implant. Because the implant actually replaces the root of your tooth, it preserves your jawbone and prevents bone recession over time. Dental implants are an investment that can last a lifetime with proper care.
  • Replace it with a dental bridge. A missing tooth can be replaced quickly with a bridge, filling in the gap to complete your smile. Dental bridges can last up to 15 years with proper care.
  • Do nothing. It is important to consider the long-term consequences of not replacing a missing tooth. If you remove a tooth and do nothing to replace it, other teeth could shift and cause problems with your bite.

When it comes to your oral health, the choice is ultimately yours to make. There are several factors to consider when deciding between root canal therapy and extraction, including cost, long-term goals, health condition, and more. Our doctors can help you determine a solution that will effectively meet your needs.

Learn More about Treatments in Restorative Dentistry

To find out more about root canal therapy and extractions, schedule a visit with one of our doctors. You can call our office at (757) 473-8482 or contact us online anytime.

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Can't believe that it is a pleasure to go to the dentist...Not only did you save all the teeth [other dentists] were going to remove, but your professional organization and friendly, caring staff are a remarkable reflection of your commitment to excellent dentistry.

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