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John P. Goodman DDS

Understanding Root Canal Therapy vs. Tooth Extraction

By Dr. John Goodman on October 23, 2017

An inflamed rootWhen tooth decay or dental damage occurs, your oral health suffers. If the damage affects the roots of the teeth, seeking root canal treatment as early as possible is essential for saving damaged teeth and restoring oral health. Unfortunately, in some cases, the damage may be too severe for root canal treatment and instead, extraction may be necessary. Dr. John Goodman performs thorough dental examinations to determine which treatment, root canal therapy versus tooth extraction, is right for each patient at his Kansas City, MO practice. To find out which is right for you, we welcome you to schedule a consultation.

When Is Tooth Extraction Necessary?

Unfortunately, tooth extraction is sometimes necessary to restore oral health. Tooth extraction may be necessary when a tooth is severely fractured, cracked below the gum line, severely decayed, or has a cavity that is too large to be repaired with a dental filling or other restoration.

When Is Root Canal Therapy an Option?

Although extraction is sometimes necessary, saving the tooth is the preferred course of action. When possible, root canal therapy may be used to save a damaged tooth and restore oral health. Root canal therapy may be an option when the pulp tissue, nerves, and blood vessels within a tooth are infected as a result of a cavity or cracked tooth. Root canal therapy can be performed when the tooth's structure is strong enough to support a restoration.

Root Canal Therapy Procedure

The procedure for root canal therapy is rather straightforward and begins with numbing the surrounding area to ensure patient comfort during treatment. Once sufficiently numbed, the damaged tooth will be opened to access the infected tissues. These tissues will then be removed and the inside of the tooth will be cleaned. After cleaning the inside of the tooth and removing all damaged tissue and decayed portions of the tooth, a filling or dental crown will be placed to restore the tooth's structure and appearance.

What to Expect after Root Canal Therapy

After root canal therapy, patients may feel some pain or discomfort around the treatment site for a few days. In most cases, over-the-counter pain medication is sufficient for minimizing discomfort. Although some pain may be expected for several days after treatment, the tooth itself should stop hurting once the mouth heals since the nerves responsible for regulating dental sensitivity are removed during root canal therapy. 

The Tooth Extraction Procedure

As with root canal therapy, the area requiring extraction is numbed for patient comfort. Once numbed, a tool called an elevator is applied to the damaged tooth to help loosen the tooth from its socket. Next, the tooth is gently maneuvered to pull it out of the socket. Although it may seem painful to have a tooth extracted, most patients only feel pressure in the jaw where the tooth is being pulled and are relatively comfortable during treatment.

What to Expect after Tooth Extraction

After tooth extraction, patients will be given instructions on how to care for the extraction site. Following these instructions is important to ensuring a fast recovery free of complications.

Although each experience will vary, patients can generally expect some swelling, mild discomfort, and light bleeding for about 24 hours after extraction. Applying ice packs to the cheeks and jaw can help reduce swelling and alleviate pain. Over-the-counter pain medication may also help reduce pain. However, medications with ibuprofen should be avoided as these can increase the risk of bleeding.

Patients should stick to a soft diet for several days after extraction to avoid irritating the extraction site, and straws should not be used when drinking as the sucking motion can cause the protective blood clot within the socket to dislodge.

It's also important for patients to practice good oral hygiene during recovery to lower the risk of infection. It is often beneficial to use a child's size, soft-bristled toothbrush at this time to avoid brushing the extraction site. 

Schedule a Consultation

For answers to your questions about root canal therapy versus tooth extraction, or to find out which treatment is right for you, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Goodman today.

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