Choosing between a root canal and a tooth extraction can be an important choice, with cosmetic, therapuetic and financial implications. And although any important decision should be made in close consultation with a certified dentist, being an informed patient is the best way to improve your outcome.
Most mainstream dentists agree that, in the majority of cases, root canal therapy is the preferable option. This is because a root canal, unlike an extraction, is designed to save your tooth. Although advances in tooth replacement have progressed to the point where it is normal for dentists to implant teeth that look and feel like regular teeth, experts still believe that retaining one's original, biological tooth is the optimal scenario. In situations in which root canal therapy can save an infected tooth, dentists agree that it is safer, less invasive, and less expensive in the long run compared with tooth extraction.
Root canal therapy is needed when the tooth’s pulp has become damaged. The pulp of a tooth is essentially the lifeline of a tooth and it contains the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue inside a tooth. As the pulp provides the tooth with blood and nutrients, damage to the pulp is serious and can result in the tooth death. Root canal therapy is recommended when damage to the tooth’s pulp has become visible. This is usually evident when an abscess (a pocket of pus at the tip of the tooth’s root) becomes visible.
Pulp infection is usually a result of either a deep cavity or a cracked tooth. These conditions expose the to pulp to bacteria, which leads to infection. At this point, root canal therapy is highly recommended as a tooth-preservation method. However, tooth extraction would avoid the painful root canal therapy and serve as a final resolution to the problem.
Finally, root canal therapy is better for your overall health. Dentists have estimated that tooth extraction releases between 68% and 84% more bacteria into the blood stream than root canal therapy does. Considering that the human body is a complete organism, and that the health of one part of the body will affect other areas of the body, a root canal is the safest choice between the two options.
So, you should understand that there are some circumstances where root canal therapy is unfeasible and extraction is the only option. In these cases, you should take heart knowing that tooth replacement techniques have progressed exponentially over the last few years. And replacing any tooth that is extracted is highly recommended, as this will substantially reduce the occurance of dental problems caused by a missing tooth.
Before making your decision, you should do two things: read more about the issues invloved, including costs, alternatives and cosmetic considerations, and find a dentist in your area that you feel comfortable with. The box above contains a list of topics that will help you make the best decision possible for youself.