September 28, 2021

Root Canal vs Extraction: What’s Best for My Oral Health and Smile?

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may find yourself with tooth decay. Tooth decay is a common issue that nearly every person will encounter. It can start as a simple cavity and, without treatment, can escalate to tooth decay.

You may find yourself having tooth sensitivity to cold, heat, or sweet foods and beverages. If you don’t seek dental treatment, the issue could worsen, leading you to need a root canal or even an extraction.

So, root canal vs extraction, what’s the difference? Here’s a quick guide to the procedure, when you might need them, and which to choose to maintain your dental health.

What Is a Root Canal?

For many people, the words ‘root canal’ are two of the most dreaded words. But despite their scary connotations, root canals are very safe procedures.

A root canal treatment removes infected pulp from inside a tooth. This elimination process helps to protect the tooth from future infections. If the procedure is done early enough, a root canal can save the tooth.

When Do You Need a Root Canal?

Root canals are often needed because of a cracked or injured tooth; however, genetics can also play a role in whether you may need a root canal. A deep or untreated cavity can also lead to a root canal.

You’ll know you need a root canal because you’ll experience severe pain, especially when chewing or biting. Sensitivity to hot and cold sensations may mean you need a root canal.

Other symptoms include pimples on your gums, swollen or tender gums, or darkening of the gums.

Risks Associated With a Root Canal

Though many people may be afraid of root canals, they’re a common procedure and often pose little risk to the patient. However, like all surgeries, there is still risk involved.

If the root canal isn’t done correctly, there could be damage to the enamel. If all of the infected pulp isn’t completely removed, an abscess can further develop and spread the infection.

What Is a Tooth Extraction?

A tooth extraction might seem like an extreme option if you have tooth decay. It may also seem like a simple method to take care of an infected tooth. While tooth extraction is a serious surgery, it’s still common and safe.

With tooth extraction, you will have to undergo anesthesia to numb the infected area. The dental surgeon will remove the tooth from the socket and the alveolar bone using a specialized tool.

When Do You Need a Tooth Extraction?

One of the most obvious signs that you will need a tooth extracted is severe dental pain. However, it is important to recognize that not all dental pain will require a tooth extraction.

You may need to consider a tooth extraction if you have periodontal disease that has caused a tooth infection. If a tooth has been damaged, you may need an extraction if restoration with a filling or crown is not possible. 

Outside dental pain, you may need an extraction because of the conditions of your mouth. If you have insufficient space or one tooth is putting pressure or crowding other teeth, an extraction may be necessary.

In some cases of orthodontic treatment, tooth extraction can make the therapy go much smoother.

Risks Associated With a Tooth Extraction

Because a tooth extraction can leave an empty tooth socket, there’s a higher chance of infection. The empty socket can grow bacteria that may cause infection and put neighboring teeth at risk. 

An empty socket can also cause nearby teeth to lose their support, causing them to shift around in the mouth, leading to misalignment or overlapping.

Root Canal vs Extraction, Which Is Right for You?

Most people wouldn’t choose to get any dental procedure if it wasn’t necessary, but especially not a root canal or tooth extraction. However, in some cases, these procedures are necessary to maintain your dental health.

So should you get a root canal or tooth extraction? It depends on the state of your teeth. In general, a root canal is the better option because it doesn’t have as many risks involved. However, in some cases, extraction is necessary.

But don’t worry, dental surgeons won’t extract a tooth until it’s absolutely necessary. That means if you catch the problem early enough, a root canal will be all you need.

However, if you ignore the issue or wait too long, advanced tooth decay may set in. It’s at that point that a surgeon may need to remove the infected tooth.

It’s best to see your dentist when you begin to have sensitivity so they can properly diagnose and treat the issue. The earlier you catch the problem, the less extreme the procedure may have to be.

How to Prevent a Root Canal or Extraction

Now that you know the difference between a root canal and an extraction and what the procedures entail, you may want to know how you can avoid needing both.

The best prevention is keeping up with your daily dental hygiene—brushing twice a day, flossing, and using mouthwash—to keep your teeth from decaying. It’s also important to regularly see your dentist for cleanings and check-ups.

If you already have tooth decay or a cavity, going in to see your dentist for a filling can prevent the decay from progressing to needing a root or extraction. 

Make Your Dental Health a Priority

Your smile is one of your best features, so you should take care of it. Maintaining good dental hygiene and regular visits to the dentist can help keep your smile in excellent condition.

If you’re experiencing painful sensations in your teeth, you need to see a dental professional about your options. Ignoring that pain could lead to tooth decay that may require a root canal or extraction to resolve.

So what is the better option in the root canal vs extraction fight? It depends on your circumstances and how far along the decay is. But maintaining good dental hygiene can help prevent you from having to make that decision.

Are you looking for a trusted dental surgeon that makes your dental health a priority? Contact us to set up a consultation today!