When a patient comes into Stephen Ratcliff Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Arlington with long-time toothache, they are often desperate. “Just pull it!” They don’t want to suffer the pain any longer. They have written off the tooth and have recognized the reality that they will lose it.
Extraction isn’t the only option
When a tooth starts aching, we are reminded that there a nerves deep down in each tooth. When you feel pain, you know that something is not right.
Veins, arteries, lymph vessels and nerves live below the enamel and dentin in the pulp of the tooth. When the blood flow is limited or cut off, the tooth eventually dies. Injury, trauma, or infection can cause this.
When the pulp of the tooth can’t be saved, there are generally two options; extraction or a root canal.
What is a root canal?
During endodontic treatment, the nerve and pulp of the affected tooth are taken out. Once the roots are cleaned out and widened, they are filled with a special rubber material.
A root canal procedure is just the initial step in the complete tooth restoration process. The final steps are the core build up and crown, which is the part you see above the gum line.
Why not just pull the tooth?
Even when a tooth is dead, the fact that its root is still embedded in the jaw is good. Normal mouth function stimulates the jaw bone. When you talk, eat and otherwise move your jaw, the tooth root puts pressure on the bone. This helps keep the jaw bone healthy.
When a tooth is removed, the bone shrinks and recedes. As if it knows it isn’t needed at the site anymore. Jaw bone recession eventually affects the shape of the face. Multiple extractions causes a “sunk-in” look. If you’ve ever met a person that has had no teeth for many years, it may appear that their upper face and lower jaw are closing in together. This is because their jaw bone has receded and shrunk.
If you have a painful tooth, come see us at Stephen Ratcliff Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Arlington. We’ve done root canal therapy on people from Mansfield and Grand Prairie, and in doing so have saved their teeth. We also offer complete general dentistry. Call for an appointment today!
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