When a tooth’s nerve and pulp becomes infected, a dentist and patient must make a choice of whether to attempt to save the tooth by performing a root canal or to extract the tooth.
There are several factors that influence this decision. These include whether there is infection in the surrounding bone, the amount and condition of the remaining tooth structure, the strength of the supporting bone, and the presence of periodontal disease.
During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp of the tooth is removed. 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.
The root canal is the first step in the complete tooth restoration. 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. This protects what’s left of the tooth and allows normal function.
A root canal is typically 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 and eventually require extraction, some Boise patients wonder 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 required, talk with your dentist about the pros and cons of each procedure. If you do not currently have a dentist, we invite you to schedule a consultation at Blaisdell Family Dentistry.
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