Root canal therapy is treatment used to repair and save a tooth that has been infected due to a deep cavity or cracked tooth. If the treatment is not performed, infection of the nerve can spread into the surrounding bone which may spread for years unnoticed. However, it is more likely that an acute infection will develop, which will probably require removal of the tooth. What are the signs that a root canal is needed? Severe tooth pain while chewing Your tooth pain wakes you up at night Teeth that are highly sensitive to hot or cold, with the sensitivity lingering for some time. Discolouration or darkening of the tooth Swollen gums in the area of the infected tooth What does the treatment involve? An opening is made into the pulp chamber (middle of the tooth) The pulp is removed. (A tooth’s pulp and nerve is not important to a tooth’s health and function after the tooth has fully emerged from the gums.) The root system is thoroughly cleaned. A temporary filling will be placed to protect the tooth, if the dentist decides to complete the root canal therapy in multiple visits. When you return, the dentist will remove the temporary filling, re-clean the root canal and pulp chamber, fill the root canal system with a plastic-like filling material, and place a permanent filling and/or crown over the tooth. Root canal therapy has a high rate of success (>95%) and many teeth undergoing the procedure can be saved to last a lifetime. However, root canal treated teeth are more brittle and they are more susceptible to fracture. It is highly recommended to protect root canal treated teeth with crowns to prevent future breakage.
A dental extraction is most commonly required if one of your teeth is damaged beyond practical repair. The most common reasons for tooth extractions include: Severe tooth decay or infection may make it impossible or too costly to repair a tooth Advanced gum disease may require a tooth to be pulled so it doesn’t affect the supporting tissues and bone structures of your mouth A tooth may be extracted if it is blocking other teeth from coming in During orthodontic work, teeth may need to be extracted to create room for the teeth that are being moved into place Wisdom teeth are often extracted either before or after they come in What to expect Your dentist will first administer anesthetic to numb the area and reduce discomfort. During the extraction, you will feel the pressure of the tooth being removed, but will not feel any pain. Typically, the dentist is able to remove your tooth within a matter of minutes A small amount of bleeding is normal and a patch of gauze will be placed in the affected area. The area may bleed minimally for the next 24 hours or so and taper off after that. Follow your dentist’s instructions on how often to change the gauze, and what other post-procedure steps to follow. It is important to decide if you want to replace the tooth being removed. There are several different options for tooth replacements e.g. Bridges or Implants. Depending on the situation, your dentist will be able to discuss the best long term option for you.