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There was a time when the suggestion of having a root canal procedure performed would result in anxiety. The fear of significant pain would sometimes cause the patient to have the tooth pulled, and when choosing to undergo treatment, the process sometimes failed to save the tooth.
Fortunately, these times are over, and today, root canal therapy (RCT) is now one of the simplest, most straightforward ways to save a damaged tooth. RCT is designed to alleviate pain, not cause it. However, sometimes a tooth cannot be saved, and a dental implant is the only option.
Of course, if the tooth is pulled, one could opt not to replace it, but that’s a bad idea, and we’ll get to that later.
Why Might I Need Root Canal Therapy?
Healthy natural teeth provide us with an inviting smile and the ability to sufficiently chew our food. When a tooth becomes badly decayed, has cracks, chips, or has suffered an injury, root canal therapy is often the only way to save it.
The following symptoms may indicate that root canal therapy is necessary:
- Toothache/tooth pain
- Persistent tooth sensitivity to heat or cold
- Pain while chewing
- Gums are swollen, darkened, or have pimples
These signs often point to severe tooth decay and infection deep within a tooth or root. Root canal therapy (RCT) is the best way to save the tooth unless your dentist has advised you that the damage is too great and the chance of the root canal failing is high.
How Can a Root Canal Save My Tooth?
This endodontic treatment saves damaged teeth by clearing out bacteria that has reached the pulp of an infected tooth or by restructuring the center of an injured tooth.
Without intervention, badly decaying teeth can lead to the formation of abscesses and potential bone loss.
An endodontologist or a dentist trained to perform root canal therapy will make a small hole in your tooth through which they will extract any bacteria and or debris, leaving it clear to be filled with an expanding and contracting substance called gutta-percha. The tooth is altered to receive restoration, and finally, a color-matched crown is placed on the modified tooth.
Why Save a Badly Decayed or Damaged Tooth?
If your tooth can be saved with a root canal, you can avoid having to undergo the dental implant process, which is more invasive and expensive.
Additionally, pulling a tooth without replacing it can cause some serious problems, including:
- Your remaining teeth can shift out of place, causing gaps
- The underlying bone will begin to deteriorate
- Loss of bone density can cause other teeth to become loose
- Multiple missing teeth cause the weakened jaw to thin out and distort facial features
When Is a Dental Implant a Better Choice than a Root Canal?
Dental implants are the best way to replace a lost tooth because they act as the missing root, which is important because the jawbone requires regular stimulation to remain healthy. Without natural or artificial tooth roots, the bone deteriorates in a process called resorption, which can lead to additional missing teeth and deformity of the jaw.
There are a number of circumstances that would call for a dental implant rather than RTC:
- The patient has already had one root canal that has failed
- An injury has loosened the tooth
- The tooth was knocked out
- The tooth is too severely decayed to support a crown
How Do Dental Implants Work? The Six Steps You Should Know
Dental implants are essentially artificial tooth roots with a permanent crown attached. They look and feel like natural teeth and offer the ideal tooth replacement solution. Some patients with existing bone loss may require grafting to strengthen the jaw before the implants are placed.
When choosing to receive dental implants, the following six steps are followed:
- The damaged tooth is removed
- Jawbone grafting is performed when necessary
- A titanium post is inserted into the jaw
- The bone is given time to fuse with the post
- An abutment is placed onto the post in preparation for the crown
- An artificial tooth or crown is placed onto the abutment
Don’t Delay Treatment – Dental Care in Las Cruces
If you are experiencing pain, irritation around the bottom of a tooth, or unexplained discoloration, see your dentist immediately to be treated to avoid additional damage to your teeth, gums, or jawbone.
Gentle Care Dentistry provides expert root canal therapy and dental implants to save or replace damaged teeth in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Give us a call today at 575-524-3722. Our friendly staff has the answers to your dental questions.