Root Canal Vs. Extraction: Which Is Better For You?

dentist with patient, root canal treatment specialist

The dental pulp in teeth can become inflamed or infected as a result of deep caries, cracks, fractures or severe gum disease. Patients may present with pain or a swelling, although at times there may be no symptoms as well. When this occurs, dentists will recommend one of two options – a root canal treatment versus an extraction. The risks and benefits of either treatment option depend greatly on the specific conditions of the individual tooth and patient. Here we share some insight behind how a root canal treatment can save your tooth.

What is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment involves the disinfection of the root canals in a diseased tooth followed by a filling with a biocompatible material. 

  • A thorough examination inclusive of a dental X-ray is performed to determine that a root canal treatment is required.
  • Local anaesthetic is administered to numb the affected tooth. 
  • A small opening is made through the crown of the tooth.
  • Instruments are used to clean the root canals and a medicament may be placed inside the tooth.
  • Depending on the complexity of the case, root canal treatment might be completed in a single or multiple visits.
  • Finally, biocompatible materials are used to fill the root canals and a permanent filling (core) is placed to close off the opening
  • If a crown is required to protect the tooth, we will refer you back to your general dentist for further management
  • The tooth is retained in the mouth and functional

When might the tooth be unsuitable for a root canal treatment?

In the following situations, we may recommend an extraction:

  • Assessment of the tooth confirms a deep crack
  • Decay or a fracture that is too extensive
  • Severe bone loss around the tooth
  • Signs and symptoms persist despite adequate root canal treatment

In patients with certain medical conditions, we might advise against an extraction even for teeth which are otherwise unsalvageable. These conditions include a history of radiotherapy to the head and neck region, bisphosphonate or anti-resorptive/anti-angiogenic drug use for the treatment of osteoporosis or certain cancers. Please inform your dentist if you have any of these conditions so that the safest treatment option can be planned for you. 

What should I do if I need an extraction?

After a thorough assessment of the diseased tooth, if an extraction is recommended, we will liaise with your referring dentist to complete the extraction for you in a timely manner. Generally, extraction involves the removal of the diseased tooth with forceps but sometimes a minor operation may be required to fully remove the tooth. Extractions are usually performed under local anaesthesia. If several teeth are indicated for extraction, it may be performed under sedation or general anaesthesia. Your dentist will also be able to provide a suitable replacement for your extracted tooth, for example, an implant. 

Our team of root canal specialists at The Endodontic Office are well trained in the diagnosis and treatment of painful teeth. If you are suffering from a toothache, make an appointment to see one of our dentists via today.