Although root canals are very common procedures nowadays, it is not uncommon for patients to ask about alternatives to them. Regardless of their reason, they want to save the ailing tooth, but they are looking for other options. Is a root canal really necessary or are there other steps that can be taken?
Let’s take a look at what a root canal is - as well as the available alternatives.
Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment is a restorative treatment designed to save a dying tooth that has been overrun with decay and is full of infection. Decay can begin eating through the enamel and the dentin, finally reaching the inside of the tooth. This area contains the tooth’s pulp and soft tissue - and is sensitive to inflammation and infection. A root canal will remove the pulp, clear out the infection and debris, and then seal up the tooth to keep it from further being impacted.
This non-invasive procedure is rather quick and painless, offering the patient much relief.
Root canals may be necessary due to:
- Multiple dental treatments involving the same tooth
- Infection and inflammation in the pulp due to tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Dental trauma, such as a cracked, chipped, or damaged tooth
Despite what is going on with the tooth - or why it started having issues in the first place - a root canal treatment is used to save the tooth.
Root Canal Alternatives
Extraction. To avoid having to do anything to save the tooth (which is the exact opposite of what every dental professional would recommend), you could just move forward with an extraction. This means removing the tooth entirely. This obvious solution definitely is an alternative to a root canal but it isn’t usually the best option at all. Extraction still involves a dental procedure - one that may end up more involved than a root canal. And, it leaves you without a tooth. Without replacing the tooth, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to bone loss, tooth shifting, bite misalignment, and the like that can occur.
Pulp capping. Direct pulp capping involves closing off the area to the pulp using a paste of calcium hydroxide. This may or may not reduce the need for a root canal as it is not always an effective procedure.
Apicoectomy. This procedure involves an incision in the gum tissue, exposing the bone and its surrounding tissue. Any that is damaged will be removed and the area will then be filled with root-end filling to seal and fight off any reinfection. An apicoectomy is no more invasive or more painful than a root canal. A consultation with an experienced endodontist will determine if this is the best option to save the tooth.
Treatment at Eagle Endodontics
While there are many alternatives to root canal treatment, the team at Eagle Endodontics is highly skilled at treating tooth decay that has made its way into the pulp area of the tooth. And their goal is to save the natural tooth.
Schedule an appointment today so that may do an evaluation and determine the options you have available to you. Contact us at our most convenient location. Or, request an appointment online.