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Root Canal vs. Extraction: How to Treat an Infected Tooth

By Steven Kail on November 22, 2017


X-ray of an infected toothWhen a tooth is seriously injured or decayed, a person runs the risk of developing a toot canal infection. These dental problems occur when the pulp inside of a tooth becomes infected with the bacteria that naturally occurs in the mouth. If left untreated, this painful infection can lead to the spread of infection to other parts of the mouth and even more severe dental health problems.

The team at our Jackson restorative dentistry center has different treatment options for root canal infections. In general, the most common approaches are root canal therapy or tooth extraction. Let's compare these two treatments and how they can benefit you.

About Root Canal Therapy

Also known as endodontic treatment, root canal therapy is a procedure that can save and restore an infected tooth. During root canal therapy, the diseased pulp inside of the the tooth is removed and the inside of the tooth is sterilized. The tooth is then filled with an inert material and capped with a crown to restore the ability to bite and chew.

While the tooth is technically dead after a root canal is performed, it will not need to be removed. The sterilization of the pulp chamber prevents the infection from affecting other parts of the mouth.

Is Root Canal Therapy Painful?

The root canal procedure itself is not painful thanks to modern pain management techniques and technology. That said, patients will experience soreness and discomfort after their root canal during the recovery process. Prescription pain killers can help keep reduce the level of discomfort one feels. Keep in mind that the pain is only temporary and is not as severe as the pain would experience if the root canal infection went untreated.

When Is Tooth Extraction Necessary?

If the root canal infection is starting to spread and/or the tooth is too damaged or decayed to be saved, the only viable option for treatment is tooth extraction. During a consultation with your dentist, the condition of the diseased tooth can be assessed.

When performing an extraction, local anesthetic will be used to make sure patients experience as little pain and discomfort as possible. Pain management will continue after the oral surgery using prescription pain medication.

Replacing the Extracted Tooth

Dentists have a number of options to consider when it comes to treating missing teeth. Usually a dental bridge is the best option. This appliance helps fill a tooth gap by bracing around adjacent tooth structure. For some patients, a single dental crown supported by a dental implant may be the most ideal option. We can discuss tooth replacement procedures in greater detail during the consultation process.

Is One Option Better Than the Other?

Generally speaking, the best options for treatment involve maintaining as much of your natural tooth structure as possible. Therefore, root canal therapy is preferable to tooth extraction in that regard. But as noted above, sometimes root canal therapy is no longer a viable option if the tooth is too damaged or the infection is severe.

Prevention Is Always the Best Policy

As you can imagine, proper preventative care is always the most ideal policy for patients. That's why regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits are a crucial part of having a healthy smile.

Learn More About Root Canal Infections

For more information about root canal therapy and whether or not it's an ideal option for you and your needs, be sure to contact an experienced dentist. The team at Premier Dental Center is here to help you have a healthy and beautiful smile.

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