Canada is one of the most conscientious nations when taking care of their oral health, with a reported 74 percent of Canadians visiting their dentist in 2019. But despite this, dental decay is still an extremely common issue amongst the population.
Much of the time, tooth decay is caused by poor oral hygiene and infection, not because you didn't visit the dentist often enough --however, that can add to the problem. The human tooth is vulnerable to infection because of its soft cavity center. Neglecting your oral health can only speed up the decay process.
So how do you know when a root canal or tooth extraction is necessary, or which is the best option? Check out the rest of this blog to know for sure.
When Is a Root Canal the Better Choice?
Most people dread the thought of going in for a root canal. But in today's day and age, this procedure uses state-of-the-art technology and techniques to ensure it's as pain-free as possible.
The reality is that a root canal may be necessary if you have irreparable tooth decay or damage. Most of the time, it's the only way to save a tooth. The point of a root canal is to remove decay from an infected tooth, clean it out, and restore it, without having to remove it.
What To Expect From the Procedure
Your dentist will first examine your mouth and take a couple of x-rays to help determine how severe your tooth infection is, and whether it has spread to more than just one tooth.
Once your dentist has a clear idea of which tooth to work on, they will numb that specific area of your mouth with a local anesthetic. After this, your dentist places a rubber sheet on the infected tooth and other adjacent teeth to prevent the spread of infection.
Your dentist will then drill a hole into your infected tooth in order to reach the infected area -- which is generally the pulp of the tooth. The infected pulp is removed as well as any other dead or decaying tooth tissue.
After this, the area is cleaned and sterilized with anti-bacterial and anti-septic solutions. Your dentist fills the walls of your tooth canals, as well as the drilled hole with a root canal filling, or they may need to reinforce the tooth with a dental crown.
You will generally need to take a one-two day course of antibiotics to keep infection at bay. Your dentist may also advise you to stick to soft foods or liquids for a day or two as well.
You will most likely experience some pain and swelling, but this should subside within a few days. Over-the-counter painkillers can help to alleviate pain and tenderness.
When Will Your Dentist Prescribe a Root Canal?
So, when will your dentist suggest a root canal over tooth extraction? First of all, if you manage to catch your tooth decay symptoms early on, a root canal is often the best choice.
Some of these symptoms include pain while chewing, tender gums, hot and cold sensitivity, or a visible pimple on your gum. Once you notice any of these symptoms, get in touch with your dentist right away for the best chance at saving an infected tooth.
Your dentist may also recommend a root canal if the structure of your tooth is still fairly strong and in-tact. During a root canal, your dentist removes the nerve pulp inside the root of your tooth. As well as any other decaying tissue.
Sometimes this decay can be severe enough that it compromises the strength of a tooth. However, if the decay is relatively minor, you won't need a tooth extraction.
Another common example where a root canal is the better choice is when the roots of a tooth are fairly easy to clean. Much of the success of a root canal depends on the amount of infected material your dentist can remove. If your root canals are difficult to clean out completely, an extraction may be the better choice.
When Is a Tooth Extraction the Only Choice?
Understandably, no one wants to lose a tooth if it can be avoided, especially if it's one of your more prominent teeth. But in some cases, tooth extraction may be the only choice to remove decay from your mouth and prevent it from spreading.
Most of the time, tooth extraction is the best option in order to preserve your oral health.
What To Expect From the Procedure
This process is far simpler than a root canal procedure. But first thing's first, your dentist will examine your mouth and take x-rays to assess the level of infection of your tooth/teeth.
If a tooth extraction is the best option, your dentist numbs the infected area with a local anesthetic and removes the infected tooth with a specialized tool. The duration of this process is generally pain-free. However, you might experience some measure of pain, bleeding, and tenderness post-procedure.
Your dentist will advise you to stick to soft or liquid foods for a day or two after tooth extraction.
When Will Your Dentist Suggest Tooth Extraction?
As mentioned, there are certain situations that call for tooth extraction as the only choice to remove infection and protect the rest of your teeth. Tooth extraction is not as common as root canal, but sometimes, it's just the best choice.
Some of the most common scenarios for necessary tooth extraction include severe or advanced tooth decay, where the tooth cannot be saved. If your tooth is broken, cracked, or fractured, tooth extraction may also be necessary.
If an infected tooth is surrounded by infected gum tissue, caused by periodontal disease, there is little chance the tooth will remain supported after a root canal. In this case, it will need to be removed.
If you have already undergone a root canal on a specific tooth and you seem to have recurring infection or issues with the tooth, your dentist will recommend extraction.
The Best Tooth Replacement Options
It's important to note that tooth extraction does come with some level of risk in terms of infection. This is because the removal of a tooth leaves behind an empty space in your mouth, which can become a trap for bacteria.
If this gap in your mouth is not filled, you could face an infection that may spread to other teeth, which is obviously something you don't want. So, how do you avoid infection?
Some of the best options for tooth replacement include:
- A dental implant which includes a manufactured tooth anchored into your gum and bone tissue
- A dental bridge, which is an artificial tooth structure that fits into the gums and anchors to existing teeth
- An implant-supported denture which is specifically designed for areas of missing teeth
- Artificial dentures, which are removable but only necessary if you have had several teeth removed
- A single-tooth denture, also known as a flipper which is a temporary replacement
It's up to you to decide whether you want to replace an extracted tooth with any of the above solutions. However, your dentist will always advise that tooth replacement is the best option and your best chance of avoiding infection.
Common Signs of Tooth Decay
How do you know when you have simple tooth sensitivity versus actual tooth decay? Either way, it's important to remember that tooth pain rarely goes away on its own and is a sign that something could be brewing inside your mouth.
The earlier you take note of symptoms of tooth decay, the better chance you have of saving your natural teeth -- which is always the best option. In order to nip a dental issue in-the-bud, you must know what to look out for:
- Tender, red, and swollen gums near an infected tooth
- Persistent gum bleeding, especially when brushing your teeth
- A tooth that is sensitive to hot and cold foods
- A tooth that is loose in its position
- Receding gums near an infected tooth
- Bad breath or a foul taste in the mouth
- A visible pimple on the gum, near an infected tooth
- Face or cheek swelling
Don't make the mistake of ignoring what your mouth is trying to tell you. The longer you leave a dental issue, the more potential there is for it to worsen, jeopardizing the rest of your oral health. Schedule a dental checkup as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms, sooner rather than later!
Stay on Top of Your Oral Health With Us
Whether you visit the dentist regularly, floss, and brush your teeth every day, dental decay can happen to anyone, at any stage of life. The important thing is to not ignore it and visit Taunton Village Dental as soon as possible.
We offer a range of dental expertise, including preventative care, emergency dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and more. Get in touch with us if you're based in the Oshawa region for all your dental needs.