Poor oral hygiene has made tooth decay a very common dental problem. Teeth that have suffered decay are prone to develop infections. An infected tooth can be considered a dental emergency because if not treated the infection could spread to other parts of the body. Tooth infections cause pain and discomfort and can get in the way of eating, sleeping, and other daily activities. The most reliable solution to a decayed tooth, or tooth infection is either a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But not everyone knows the difference between the two, or which procedure is the better option. Read further as we discuss the difference between a root canal and a tooth extraction. We will also try to determine which procedure is better to have.
Tooth Extraction Explained
A tooth extraction is the easiest procedure to go with when dealing with an infected tooth. During a tooth extraction the patient will receive anesthesia to numb the affected area. The dentist will then pull the infected tooth out with a special tool. Because of the anesthesia you will not feel any pain during the tooth extraction, but when the medication wears off, you may have some discomfort.
There is risk of infection with any tooth extraction. This is because when the tooth is pulled from the mouth, the patient is left with an empty space that could be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. This could cause infection to spread to other teeth. The missing tooth could complicate the remaining teeth as well. The neighboring teeth could start to shift in the mouth, and that can lead to overlapping, overcrowding, or misalignment.
You can help prevent a tooth extraction infection by replacing the missing tooth with a dental implant or bridge.
After care for a tooth extraction may vary, depending on the case, but the patient will be asked to refrain from chewing food for a day or two. When the anesthesia wears off, the patient may feel a lot of discomfort. Pain can be managed with over the counter pain medication, or prescribed pain medicine prescribed by a dentist. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to help prevent infections. A tooth extraction is typically done in one visit, although the patient will probably have to go in for a follow up appointment to make sure there are no infections.
Root Canals Explained
Root canals are performed by dentists to clean infected teeth. There is no need to remove the tooth after a root canal. This procedure has less risks for infections than a tooth extraction. But, root canals are painful. In fact, a root canal is considered more painful than a tooth extraction, even with the use of anesthesia. A patient will first have x-rays taken so the dentist can determine the severity of the infection. Then, a rubber or vinyl sheet is placed on the infected tooth and the adjacent teeth. Then, the tooth that is getting treated is exposed when a hole is cut into the sheet. Then, a hole is drilled into the infected tooth. The dentist does this so the infected pulp can be removed with the help of special instruments. Then, the area will be cleaned, and the dentist will apply antiseptic and antibacterial solutions to ward off further infection. The hole is then treated with root canal fillings. The patient will most likely be prescribed antibiotics post surgery. If the procedure is not done properly, there may be damage to the enamel. And, if any infected material is left behind after a root canal, an abscess could develop and spread further. The antibiotics help reduce the risks greatly.
The final verdict is that it is always preferable to save the tooth, rather than lose it. Sure, it may be easy in today’s modern dentist world to replace a lost tooth, but that replacement tooth will never compare with your natural tooth. Plus, healing from a tooth extraction takes longer than a root canal.
Still, if the natural tooth must be pulled, that means that the tooth is simply too far gone to save. In this case, a tooth extraction would be necessary. Unfortunately, some people have had bad teeth for a long time, and waited too long to seek care. This is actually common due to people having a dentist phobia. Being afraid of what happens at the dentist would make a patient put off treatment. That is why, if someone avoids the dentist for too long, a tooth extraction may be the only option. But, the consensus is that a root canal is better than a tooth extraction.