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Tooth extraction vs. root canal: When to save and when to cave

Tooth extraction vs. root canal: When to save and when to cave

Deciding whether to remove a tooth or trying to restore it is kind of like being in a questionable relationship: part of you wants to save it because of the history behind it, while part of you is ready to just give it up. So, how do you know when a tooth can be saved, or whether it’s time to get it removed?

Root Canal

If you’re trying to save your tooth—or your dentist declares your tooth “saveable” and recommends that you do—a root canal may be right for you. Root canals get rid of any infections or damage to your tooth. This procedure would be best if you have:

  • Deep decay that’s reached the nerves or pulp of your teeth
  • Chipped, cracked, or otherwise damaged teeth
  • Received treatment on the same tooth several times with little success
  • Crowns or dental bridges that need to be fixed

Root canals are usually fully complete after a couple of visits. During your first visit, you’ll be numbed up with local anesthesia, and a rubber dam will be put around your tooth to keep saliva away from it. Next, a h*** will be drilled into the tooth to remove any decay. A root canal file is then inserted deep into the root of your tooth to extract the nerve, pulp and bacteria. Finally, your tooth will receive a temporary sealant to prevent renewed infection.

The second visit is pretty brief compared to the first. The dentist will re-open your tooth and fill it with a cement compound with a pretty fun name...gutta-percha. A traditional filling is then placed to once again seal the tooth.

And so, your tooth has been reborn! If your tooth continues to take damage, or is too weakened to support chewing function, a crown will be applied for additional support.

Tooth Extraction

If a root canal fails you, or your dentist tells you that there’s damage to your tooth that can’t be repaired, it may be time to get it pulled

The process of a tooth extraction is relatively simple. While some brave souls manage to undergo tooth extraction with nothing more than local anesthesia, most patients opt for oral or even general anesthesia. Your dentist will help you decide which option is right for you.

Once you’re sedated, any damaged bone or tissue around the tooth will be removed if necessary. Then, your dentist will rock the tooth back and forth in an effort to widen the h*** and detach ligaments holding your tooth in place. Sometimes, the tooth may break under the pressure, other times it can be pulled out without difficulty. Once the tooth is removed your dentist will clean up any fragments left behind.

Finally, your gums will be stitched up and a gauze will be placed on the wound to control bleeding.

If you selected general anesthesia for your tooth extraction, you will now be awoken from your slumber and allowed time to regain your bearings before leaving the dentist’s office. Those who chose oral sedation will now be released into the care of an adult family member or friend who can safely take the patient home. Either way, you won’t be able to drive yourself following general anesthesia or oral sedation, so be sure to arrange for a ride home.


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