When a cavity reaches deeper than the surface and affects the pulp (or root) of a tooth, it’s important to treat it as soon as possible. Your dentist may offer you various treatment options. An extraction or root canal are both ways to treat a tooth that has been deeply affected by decay. Here’s how to determine the best course of action.

What Causes Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay happens when the outer surface of a tooth, or the enamel, becomes eroded or damaged. This can allow bacteria to reach inside and affect the inner layers of the tooth, leading to decay and infection. If not treated, the root of the tooth can die.

Tooth decay is a serious condition that requires urgent treatment to prevent the infection from spreading to other teeth or affecting other parts of the mouth and body.

What is a Tooth Extraction?
Most commonly referred to as “getting a tooth pulled,” to extract a tooth simply means to remove it. Complications of a tooth extraction may include discomfort, bleeding, jaw bone degeneration, shifting of surrounding teeth, and dry socket. Post-extraction, it may be possible to replace the missing tooth or teeth with a dental implant, bridge, or dentures to preserve the appearance of your smile and function of the tooth.

How a Root Canal Can Help
A root canal is a procedure that a dentist, or a specialist dentist called an endodontist, performs to treat a tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted. The nerve or pulp of the tooth is removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned, then a crown is typically placed over the tooth to seal it and help protect it from further decay or damage. Simply put, a root canal can save your tooth.

Talk with an Endodontist
If your dentist has recommended an extraction or root canal, it’s important to weigh all the factors when you make the decision. Ask your dentist about the pros and cons of each option. If extraction appears to be the only option, it may be helpful to talk with an endodontist to get a specialist’s opinion on all the possible options and whether an extraction or root canal is most appropriate for your situation.

Endodontists are experts at saving teeth and can often save teeth that would otherwise be lost. Don’t give up on a tooth without talking to an endodontist about the options available to you.

Call our Lee's Summit dental office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.