Did you know that about a quarter of Americans suffer from tooth decay? Due to a variety of reasons such as a fear of dentists and difficulties scheduling appointments, many people often do not get treatment before the problem becomes too aggravating.
If you have minor tooth decay, your dentist may recommend a filling to treat the problem before it becomes worse. However, sometimes more drastic action is needed so that you do not get an infection.
Two of the most common treatments for extensive tooth decay are tooth extractions and root canals. What are the differences between these two procedures? Here is a brief guide so you and your dentist can make an informed decision when the time comes.
What is a Tooth Extraction?
A tooth extraction involves pulling out the entire tooth, including the root. If you have a lot of decay or a broken tooth, then the dentist may pull the tooth out in several pieces.
Before the extraction, the dentist numbs the area with a substance such as Lidocaine or Novocain. Next, the dentist uses a variety of tools to safely extract the tooth and clean out the infection if necessary.
After the tooth extraction, the dentist will place gauze in your mouth to make sure that the blood clots. The blood clot forms to help protect the wound so that it does not continue to bleed and cause problems during your recovery.
A tooth extraction is often the solution if there is not enough of the tooth left to save through a root canal procedure. A tooth extraction usually does not take a long time and can be performed by a general dentist.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal involves a much more complex procedure. Unlike a tooth extraction, you must go to a special dentist, called an endodontist, to have a root canal. Some general dentists have the qualifications to perform root canals, but not all do.
The dentist will numb the area around the tooth and the gum, similar to what is needed for a tooth extraction. Because they will work with the roots of the tooth, it is very important to eliminate pain and sensitivity.
Rather than extract the tooth, the endodontist goes in and cleans out the infection until they reach the root. Depending on how many roots are inflamed by the infection, they will then remove the infected tissue and seal it.
This should prevent further infection and decay, and it removes the root of the tooth so that you no longer suffer from any more pain in the area.
After the procedure, the dentist will then put on a temporary crown to protect the exposed tooth until a permanent crown customized to your gum shape can be put on.
If you have a dental emergency and no insurance, you may end up paying quite a bit out of pocket for a tooth extraction or a root canal. This depends on the dentist, the complexity of the procedure, and insurance coverage.
The average cost of a root canal varies from several hundred dollars to a thousand dollars. This is because you will often need to visit an endodontist to perform this complex procedure. You will also have to pay for the crown on top of the treated tooth.
However, a tooth extraction is significantly less expensive. For a simple tooth removal, you can expect to pay anywhere from one hundred to two hundred dollars. A surgical procedure to remove the tooth will cost more.
If a root canal may seem too costly for you, ask if a tooth extraction is the right solution when you visit a dentist. However, sometimes there is so much tooth decay that a root canal is not possible and extraction is the only option.
The recovery time for any procedure varies depending on factors such as the number of numbing injections needed and the amount of tooth decay. However, you should expect to feel swelling and pain at the extraction or root canal site for a few days afterward.
Your endodontist may advise you not to use the tooth that received the root canal procedure until you receive a permanent crown. A temporary crown will protect the tooth however, it can shift if you put too much pressure on it.
In general, expect to experience some light pain and swelling for a few days following the root canal procedure. Usually, you can manage the pain with over-the-counter painkillers such as Advil.
For a tooth extraction, a longer recovery time may be needed. This is because your mouth has gone through trauma and there is an open wound in your gum.
The dentist may also prescribe you antibiotics when you get a tooth extraction. These will help prevent infection from forming in the open wound so that you can recover smoothly.
After having a root canal, a permanent crown is almost always put on top of the tooth. This is both to enhance the appearance of the tooth and to protect it so that it does not sustain further damage.
Some of the common materials for crowns include porcelain and ceramic. Your dentist will determine an exact shade match before they order the crown so that it blends in with the rest of your teeth.
For a tooth extraction, you will need an implant or partial dentures to complete your smile. A crown cannot be attached because there is no tooth for it to bond onto.
Choosing a Root Canal or Tooth Extraction
If you are experiencing tooth pain, you should pay a visit to the dentist to see whether you need a root canal or a tooth extraction. Whichever procedure works best for your needs, you can rest assured that you will be able to restore health to your mouth.
Would you like to learn more about how you can benefit from dental work? Take a look around our site or contact us today to schedule an appointment.