You may be faced with the dilemma of choosing a root canal or extraction for a substantially decayed tooth. Although wisdom teeth usually benefit from extraction, your other teeth should be saved whenever possible. There are several reasons that a root canal is a better alternative, even when it is more expensive.
Maintaining Your Bone And Facial Structure
Each extraction of your teeth will cause the underlying bone to thin over time. This may not be apparent with one tooth, but if you have multiple tooth extractions, the thinning of bone can cause problems in the future. The first problem is that you may not have enough supporting bone if you want implants to replace missing teeth.
If you do not have enough supporting bone, you may require bone grafting, which can significantly increase the price of implants and healing time. Unfortunately, some people with significant jawbone loss are not candidates for implants and will have to opt for dentures to replace missing teeth.
Several missing teeth will change your facial structure. Without the support of teeth, the cheeks tend to sink inward. Furthermore, the upper and lower jaw fit closer together, which can further change your facial features.
Aesthetic Appearance Of Remaining Teeth
As your teeth are extracted, your remaining natural teeth will shift and fill in the gap caused by the extraction. This can be an advantage if you are having wisdom teeth removed, because they often cause crowding in the mouth. However, having other teeth extracted can cause noticeable gaps between your remaining teeth, or cause them to lean and appear crooked. Saving a severely decayed tooth with a root canal can prevent changes in your remaining teeth that may cause your smile to become distorted.
Root canals are traditionally thought of as a seriously painful dental procedure, which may tempt you to think that an extraction is easier. However, the pain of a root canal is often exaggerated and not based on the actual procedure. The pain associated with a root canal is usually caused by the underlying decay and infection that is already causing you pain.
Whether you choose a root canal or extraction, according to Edward Moon, DDS, an active infection can decrease the effectiveness of numbing medication. Therefore, the pain is not specific to the procedure, but underlying dental problems. Since a root canal can be less invasive than an extraction, the pain is usually less than an extraction.
Many extractions require an oral surgeon, especially if the damaged tooth is impacted, or has broken off before or during the initial attempt at extraction. Unlike a root canal, a complicated extraction may require removal of bone and stitches, which significantly increases healing time.
Before choosing the right approach for a seriously decayed tooth, consider whether a root canal or extraction will be best for you long-term. If you plan on having significant dental work in the future or want to maintain the integrity of your facial structure, an extraction is not the best option.