A visit to the dentist can be daunting, especially if you’ve been told that you need a root canal or an extraction. Both procedures are intended to rid the tooth of infection, but they vary in approach and result. An extraction is simply removing the entire tooth structure, including the crown (the visible part above the gum), plus its roots. A tooth is difficult to clean thoroughly because its roots are usually held tight within the root canals of the jawbone. Thus, if an infection penetrates these root canals, it’s often easier to take out the entire tooth and start again. A root canal or endodontic treatment involves much more than simply removing the crown. The dentist drills into the tooth to remove infected and dying tissue. Then, the canals that run through the center of each root are cleaned and filled with a biocompatible rubber-like material called gutta-percha. This “seals” off each canal so no disease-causing microorganisms can enter and multiply, causing further infection.
It is important to note that crowns can be placed immediately after the root canal process, or they could wait until the tooth has fully healed (which might take many months). This decision depends on whether there’s enough of the tooth left and how much support it will need. If any teeth adjacent to the one needing a root canal are likely to be removed, our dentist might choose to place a crown immediately for extra support. Root canals are performed by removing the damaged tissue from beneath the gum line and replacing it with artificial material to keep bacteria out of your body. When this is done, the tooth will be saved long term. If you don’t get treatment for an infection in your tooth’s roots, you’ll need to have the tooth extracted.