Health and Fitness

Should I Get a Root Canal Treatment or Have It Pulled?

You hope you will never be faced with this choice, but it happens often. Root canal treatment or tooth extraction? What is better? Both treatments are a solution for teeth with severe damage or tooth decay. Has your dentist giving you these options? Then you must know exactly what is involved in each choice.

Root canal treatment: saving the tooth

Is the pulp (dental nerve) of your tooth damaged, inflamed or even dead? Then a root canal treatment is the only way to save the tooth. Your tooth or molar will be numbed with a local anesthetic, and a small opening will be made in the tooth or molar. This exposes the root canals. If necessary, 3D imaging using CBCT scans and operating microscopes can also be used.

Special instruments are then used to clean all the tooth decay and damaged tissue, and the root canals are disinfected. The canals are filled with a biocompatible material known as gutta-percha . This seals the tooth against infection and fills the root canal space. Then the tooth or molar is restored by your dentist for further protection and functionality.

Most people experience little discomfort after a root canal treatment. Any painkillers can be used to combat these.

Emergency tooth extraction: saying goodbye to the tooth

Similar to a root canal, the emergency tooth extraction begins with a local anesthetic to completely numb the area. Your dentist also uses special instruments here to loosen and pull out the tooth. You will feel some pressure and hear loud snaps and cracks, but it shouldn’t hurt.

Tip:  Is it a wisdom tooth that needs to be removed? It is best to have it pulled by an oral surgeon . You always need a referral letter for this. Usually, the insurance also fully reimburses the costs if the dental surgeon removes the wisdom tooth.

It is normal for you to bleed after tooth extraction. You will be sent home with a piece of gauze in your mouth that you can bite on for 30 to 45 minutes or bite on as instructed. You may experience some light bleeding for the next 24 hours. Minor facial swelling and bruising are not uncommon. This is more common when a back molar has been extracted. Using an ice pack for 15-20 minutes at a time for the first 24-48 hours can help minimize these problems.

Pain after extraction

Some pain after a tooth extraction is normal. Your dentist can give you a prescription for a pain reliever to take as directed to ease the pain. Some people also choose to manage the pain with over-the-counter pain relievers.

Most people feel significantly better within two or three days but keep in mind that it may take two weeks or more for the extraction site to heal completely. Follow your dentist’s instructions carefully, especially regarding spitting, drinking through a straw, eating and brushing your teeth.

After an extracted tooth has healed, it is important to replace the missing tooth. Otherwise, your other teeth may shift out of place. Or you see a visible hole if it is one of your front teeth. Depending on where the tooth is in your mouth, you may also have difficulty speaking or chewing. There are many replacement options, from dental bridges to partial dentures and dental implants. Your dentist will discuss the options with you and help you choose the solution that best suits your needs, goals and budget.

Final Verdict Root Canal Treatment or Extraction? Save the tooth or choose if possible!

Even though a missing tooth can be easily replaced with modern dentistry today, it will never be the same as your own natural tooth. In addition, the healing of an extracted tooth takes longer and is often more painful than the healing of a root canal, and the extraction of the tooth means even more dental work and healing time to replace the tooth later.

Nevertheless, extracting a tooth can be the right solution in some situations. Some teeth are just too far gone to save, even with root canal treatment. Some people have had very bad teeth for a long time and know from experience that a root canal only postpones the inevitable – that the tooth, or probably several teeth, will eventually have to come out. While this situation is rare, and modern dental technology is making it easier and easier to save even problematic teeth, the decision ultimately rests with you. Discuss it with your dentist, take the time to consider both options carefully, and make the choice that you feel most comfortable with.

How painful is a root canal surgery?

It is normal for patients to be nervous about their upcoming root canal surgery. Unfortunately, root canal treatments have a reputation for being unpleasant. However, you will be relieved to know that most patients find the root canal experience easier than expected. In fact, root canal treatments are often used to relieve dental and facial pain. Patients often leave the practice feeling better than when they entered.

How much pain can you expect during a root canal?

Root Canal vs. Extraction: Root canals are performed to address infected or inflamed pulp tissue, which can cause a severe toothache. This pain can be relieved with endodontic treatment. For many patients, a root canal versus an extraction is no more painful than filling a cavity. This is thanks to the use of local anesthesia and modern endodontic techniques and instruments. Most people report feeling comfortable during the procedure, sometimes feeling pressure and movement but no pain.

Endodontic treatment begins with the use of local anesthesia to numb the affected tooth and the tissue around it. The tooth or molar is then opened so that the dentist can reach the pulp to remove it. The cavity and roots of the tooth are cleaned, shaped and disinfected. Then the cavity is filled with a rubbery material to seal the tooth and prevent infection. Finally, your dentist restores the treated tooth with a temporary filling or a temporary crown.

It often happens that patients experience immediate relief when they leave the practice. Especially if they have had a toothache or facial pain in the days or weeks leading up to their appointment. Despite the myths about root canal treatment, the first step of the procedure (also called endo-start) is a relatively quick, comfortable way to avoid having to extract and replace natural teeth.

To complete the treatment (endo-finish), the patient should return after 2-4 weeks for the definitive treatment. A permanent filling then replaces the temporary fillings or temporary crowns or, if the tooth is weakened: a permanent dental crown or bridge.

Pain after root canal treatment

As the local anesthetic wears off in the hours following your root canal, you may experience some sensitivity and tenderness. This is especially the case if the tooth in question was infected or painful before the root canal treatment.

This sensitivity is usually not serious and can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen. We recommend that you eat soft foods and do not chew with the treated tooth until the discomfort has subsided. You can resume your normal activities as usual, such as work, school and other activities.

In most cases, sensitivity after root canal treatment only lasts a few days. If you’re still in pain after this time, call your dentist to see if you need to come in for an exam.

How long does a root canal treatment last?

If the pulp of a tooth becomes infected or inflamed, a root canal treatment can prevent the tooth from having to be removed. A dentist can save your natural tooth and possibly keep it for years, decades or even life by removing the pulp and cleaning, shaping and disinfecting the root canals. Although the tooth no longer contains any living pulp tissue, it is held in place by the periodontal ligament, which allows it to continue to function like your other teeth after the pulp has been removed. Root canals can last a lifetime. However, there are circumstances in which your tooth needs to be treated again. Further on, the question is answered: ” How long does a root canal treatment last? And explains some of the factors that affect longevity.

Root canal success rate versus extraction

The success rate of endodontic treatments is very high. Scientific studies support these observations. The effectiveness of 487,476 root canal procedures over the long term was assessed in one of the most thorough studies on this subject. This study found that 86% of root canals last ten years or more, 92 percent last five years, and 98% last a year.

These statistics help patients get a broad idea of how long root canals last and why they are a viable option. It is also important to understand how your specific circumstances may affect the longevity of the treatment.

Factors affecting the longevity of root canal treatments

What separates a root canal that requires no more treatment after a few years from one that lasts a lifetime? What actions may a patient take to improve their chances of a successful outcome? Here are some things to think about.

Timing of the root canal treatment

The timely treatment produces better results than treatment that is delayed. Complications are more common when the condition of a tooth worsens before it is treated, especially when the root canal infection spreads to the jaw.

Time and quality of the restoration after root canal treatment

After the root canal treatment, you need a permanent filling or crown to restore the tooth. The quality of this restoration and its timing are critical. The sooner you go to your dentist after the endo start to have your tooth restored, the better. Waiting longer than the recommended time between your initial root canal and your endo-finish and restoration puts your tooth at greater risk for complications.

Position of the tooth or molar

Root canal treatment of a front tooth is less complicated because this tooth only has one root canal. Because these teeth are used for biting and cutting instead of grinding, they are also subjected to less force and stress. Since the molars have two or three roots, they are more difficult to handle and experience more bite force when eating. This makes them more vulnerable to problems caused by fracture-damaged restorations.

Age of the patient

As we age, our teeth become more brittle and prone to breakage. This also affects the result of a root canal treatment. When restoring (new dental crowns) teeth or molars, the crowns help to protect the tooth or molar against overload, so they are often preferred over dental fillings in these circumstances.

The heart of the matter

Because so many factors are at play, we cannot predict how long your root canal will continue. However, we do know that root canal treatment is an effective treatment method to save an affected tooth. Hence the final verdict is “Root canal treatment versus extraction – what to consider?”: Save the tooth!

What to eat after root canal treatment

If you have never had endodontic treatment before, you may be wondering what to expect from the recovery. In general, recovery from a root canal versus extraction is less uncomfortable. But you may still want to eat soft foods in the days after the treatment to minimize the pressure on the treated tooth.

Guidelines for eating after root canal treatment

During root canal treatment, a local anesthetic is used to numb the treated area. The anesthesia can last up to two hours before it wears off. It is best not to use hot liquids or chew food until the area is no longer numb. Chewing while your mouth is numb can cause soft tissue injury.

Avoid sticky foods such as candies or chewing gum after your endodontic treatment; these can loosen or remove the temporary filling in your tooth. It is best to eat soft foods that require little chewing; your tooth will probably be sensitive in the days following treatment. In addition, hard or hot foods can cause irritation. When eating, prefer the side of the mouth opposite the treated tooth.

You should brush and floss as usual to keep the treated tooth free of food debris and bacteria.

Foods you can eat after root canal treatment

Most patients can easily eat soft foods after a root canal as long as they avoid chewing or biting the treated tooth. Use this list of soft foods to build your meals after your root canal:

  • Dairy
  • Yogurt
  • Soft cheeses
  • Cottage cheese
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Pureed soup
  • Apple sauce
  • Smoothies
  • Bananas
  • mangoes
  • Ripe pears
  • Peaches
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Baked sweet potatoes
  • Pureed winter squash
  • Avocado
  • Protein
  • Eggs
  • Canned tuna or chicken
  • Hummus
  • Tahoe
  • Meatloaf
  • Nut butter
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, peas)
  • Cereals
  • couscous
  • Quinoa
  • Pasta
  • Oatmeal
  • polenta
  • Wheat semolina

After your appointment, your dentist will give you detailed aftercare instructions and answer any questions you may have.

Foods to avoid after root canal treatment

There are also certain foods that should be avoided after root canal treatment. These can make your sensitivity worse, or they can affect your temporary filling. Over time, you can gently reintroduce these foods into your diet.

We recommend that you avoid the following:

  • Very hot and very cold foods and drinks, can irritate sensitive teeth
  • Sticky foods such as gum, caramels, and other candies
  • Hard products such as steak and crusty bread
  • Hard foods such as nuts
  • Crunchy foods like pretzels and tortilla chips

Once your permanent restoration (dental crown) is in place, you can resume your normal diet, but do so at your own discretion: if you notice that your treated tooth feels sensitive when eating a particular food, stop eating it and try another day again.

If you are still experiencing tenderness and pain after a week or more, contact your dentist in Arlington, VA.

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