When a tooth’s nerve and pulp becomes infected, you must make a choice with your dentist about whether to attempt to save the tooth with a root canal or to extract the tooth altogether. At Stephen Ratcliff Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Arlington, TX, we’re familiar with that tough decision and we are happy to talk through those options with our patients.
There are several factors that impact this determination, including whether there is an infection in the surrounding bone, the amount and condition of the remaining tooth structure, the strength of the supporting bone, and the presence of periodontitis.
During endodontic treatment, the nerve and pulp of the affected tooth are taken out. This tissue contains veins, arteries, and lymph vessels. The dentist or endodontist uses files of various sizes to clean out the canals. Once the roots are cleaned out and widened, they are filled with a special rubber material that seals them off.
A root canal procedure is just the initial step in the complete tooth restoration process. After the root canal, without a crown, the tooth will probably become dry and brittle. The final steps are the core build-up and crown placement. This protects what’s left of the tooth and allows normal function.
A root canal is usually the most conservative treatment when a root is infected or a tooth has acute decay or damage. Root canals have been performed with success for generations and have a very low failure rate.
But there is always a slight possibility that a tooth with a root canal can have complications down the road. If there was a tiny crack in the treated tooth, it can become re-infected. Teeth with curved roots are more difficult to fill and they can also become re-infected. Occasionally, the tip of a file can break off in a root during the procedure and cause problems.
Because there is always a slight risk that a root canal can fail, some patients ask if they should just get a dental implant in the first place. This is not a black and white decision. Like root canals, dental implants have a high success rate. But there are risks with dental implants, as well.
If you have been told that a root canal or a dental implant is your only option, you should talk with a dentist about the pros and cons of each procedure. At Stephen Ratcliff Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Arlington, TX, we are happy to dialogue with our patients and guide you to the decision that is right for your case. We believe it is important to provide unbiased information so you can make an informed decision about your dental treatment. Please give us a call today to schedule your appointment and consultation.