If your dentist has recommended root canal treatment, you may feel worried, especially if you have heard all the rumors about the treatment. However, there is no need to worry – root canal therapy is a dental procedure performed to relieve tooth pain and extend the life of the tooth. The more you learn about…
Root Canal: Is it the Best Option or is There Another Way?
Root canal. Medieval torture. Both phrases make even the bravest of us a little queasy, but root canals are actually legal. Our natural response to, "You need a root canal," is, "Do I have to?"
If you have ever considered putting up with an aching tooth forever just to avoid a root canal, this article is for you. Stick around and find out if root canals are necessary or just one of Satan's little amusements. We will also explore root canal procedure options.
What good can come from a root canal?
A root canal is needed if the pulp deep inside the tooth becomes infected because of an injury or untreated cavity. The infamous pain of a root canal is actually the pain that comes before the procedure takes place. A root canal allows the removal of the damaged part of the tooth (and thus, the pain) while keeping its outer structure. It is also a cheaper, shorter process compared to an extraction. Also, most insurance plans cover root canals.
How is a root canal done?
With modern methods, a root canal is relatively painless. The first thing the endodontist does is numb the tooth with local anesthesia. The rest of the process goes like this:
- To keep the tooth clean and dry, the dentist isolates the tooth with a small sheet of rubber known as a dental dam.
- With a small handpiece, the dentist opens the surface of the tooth to gain access to the infected inner tooth.
- The dentist then removes the damaged and infected pulp and files down the insides of the tooth to accommodate the filling that will replace the removed pulp.
- Next, the dentist cleans out the inside of the tooth with antibacterial and antimicrobial rinses, removing any remaining pulp.
- Finally, the dentist disinfects and dries the tooth, and gutta-percha (a permanent material) is placed to fill the canals. A temporary or permanent filling will be placed over that.
- After a few weeks, a permanent crown replacement is put in; if taken care of, the tooth can last up to 25 years.
Is there another option?
Taking proper care of teeth and taking steps to keep them protected while engaged in activities that can lead to them being exposed to trauma reduces the odds of a person needing a root canal.
If prevention fails, the other option is tooth extraction and replacement.
Tooth extraction and replacement
Another option is the removal of the entire tooth. After extraction, a dental implant can be put in. It may take more time and money than a root canal, but a dental implant encourages bone and tissue growth. Truthfully speaking, however, an extraction is a more uncomfortable procedure than a root canal.
Getting a tooth extracted is often cheaper than a root canal treatment, but most dentists strongly advice against doing that since there are serious consequences for leaving a gap in the mouth unaddressed. It can lead to teeth shifting out of their proper alignment, jaw bone deterioration and a host of bite issues.
Scientific advances in anesthesia and painkillers make a root canal quite painless nowadays. If you have a tooth that is infected, the best option is to have a root canal done to save the natural tooth. Contact one of our endodontists to learn more about root canals.
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