Saving Your Natural Tooth vs. Extraction
Nothing looks, feels or functions like your natural tooth. Regular brushing and flossing, along with six-month check-ups from your dentist, can help you keep your teeth for a lifetime.
Sometimes your teeth may have infection or disease and will need additional care. When possible, you should always consider treatments to save your teeth. You may think, why not have a tooth pulled, especially if no one can see it, but you will know your tooth is missing and it will negatively impact your quality of life.
Don't get a tooth pulled because you think it’s easier or more cost-effective. Missing teeth can cause other teeth to shift, affect your ability to properly chew and ruin your smile. Tooth extraction often is more painful than the infection itself, and replacing an extracted tooth with an artificial one requires additional dental visits that can quickly add up.
When Should They Be Extracted?
Sometimes your dentist simply can't save a tooth, and it needs to be removed. This may be the case if you have a very large cavity that compromises too much of your tooth's structure, making it too weak to repair. If your tooth has a severe fracture, extraction may be the best option here as well. A tooth with a crack that extends down below the gumline, explains the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), is a prime candidate for removal.
When Can Teeth Be Saved?
Root canals can be used to save teeth that have damaged, diseased or dead pulp, but are otherwise viable to your mouth. The pulp is the innermost layer of your teeth, providing healthy blood flow to each one, but it can become damaged if you crack your tooth or develop a deep cavity. Both of these situations allow bacteria from your mouth to reach your pulp, which can lead to infection, swelling or the dying of the pulp's vital tissue.
Modern endodontics offers advancements in technologies, procedures and materials, giving you many treatment options to save your natural teeth. It’s important to understand your choices and how they’ll impact both your tooth and your future dental health. It’s always best to retain your natural teeth whenever possible and endodontic treatment should be your first choice for the best health and cosmetic results. Endodontists are specialists in saving teeth. They can evaluate your condition and provide the best treatment plan to help you save your teeth for a lifetime.
Here are some tips for saving your teeth:
When given a choice between tooth extraction and root canal treatment, always opt for a root canal. No denture, bridge or implant will look, feel and function as well as a natural tooth.
Act immediately when you experience symptoms of swelling or pain. Most endodontists can accommodate emergency cases, even on weekends, ensuring you’ll be seen quickly.
If your dentist recommends tooth extraction, ask whether the root canal is an option.
If you’re told root canal is not an option, ask why and request a referral to an endodontist or use the AAE's Find an Endodontist search tool to find a practice near you.
Root canals treatment from an endodontist is virtually painless and often leaves you with less discomfort during recovery than if you have your natural tooth extracted. Thanks to modern techniques and effective anesthesia, patients who experience root canals are six times more likely to describe it as painless than patients who have a tooth extracted! Take the time to learn more about root canal treatment and some of the common misconceptions about it and then take the first step to a pain-free, healthy mouth by visiting an endodontist near you.
It’s necessary to have endodontic or root canal treatment when the inside of your tooth (the pulp) becomes inflamed or infected as a result of deep decay, repeated dental procedures, faulty crowns or a crack or chip in the tooth. Trauma to your tooth may also cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
When you undergo a root canal or other endodontic treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Afterward, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection and will continue to function like any other tooth.
Endodontic treatment helps you maintain your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love and limits the need for ongoing dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last a lifetime.