Nobody wakes up in the morning wanting to get a root canal. That’s why we stress good oral hygiene to our patients so much; we want to help you avoid cavities and root canals. Simple acts such as brushing and flossing everyday can help to avoid an unpleasant root canal procedure. However, we know that everyone’s circumstances are different and sometimes tooth damage becomes inevitable.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a dental procedure that repairs a damaged tooth without having to remove the tooth. A root canal might be necessary if a simple cavity fill won’t do the trick or you have a cracked or broken tooth that is causing the pulp (inside of the tooth) to be inflamed and/or infected. During a root canal procedure, the pulp is removed from the tooth and then the inside of the tooth is cleaned to disinfect the area and free it of any bacteria. The tooth is then filled and topped with a crown for restoration.
A lot of people think that, unpleasant as they are, root canals are the only way to go. However, there are some other dental procedures that can take the place of a root canal in some cases.
Direct Pulp Capping Procedure
Direct pulp capping is a dental procedure used to treat damaged teeth and tooth decay that exposes the pulp. Your dentist may suggest direct pulp capping to avoid a root canal or tooth extraction. During a pulp capping, calcium hydroxide or mineral trioxide aggregate is placed directly over the exposed pulp to create a barrier that protects the pulp and helps to repair tissue. After the pulp capping, the tooth is then filled. This is an option if the exposed pulp shows no signs of inflammation or decay.
In a pulpotomy procedure, the pulp is removed from the tooth. This can be used in some cases when the pulp has been exposed due to tooth decay or tooth damage. The difference between a pulpotomy and a root canal procedure is that the root canals and tooth nerves are preserved in a pulpectomy. When a pulpotomy is performed, any inflamed pulp is removed. We then add formocresol, calcium hydroxide, MTA or another similar material to the inner tooth for healing and prevention of bacteria. The procedure is concluded with a filling and a crown for restoration and damage prevention.
Pulpotomies are much more common in children or young adults whose root is not fully formed. Pulpotomies are usually only done on adults in emergency cases to relieve pain quickly. It is usually a quick fix until a root canal can be scheduled.
A tooth extraction is when an entire tooth is removed. Getting a tooth pulled out is usually the last resort, when alternatives won’t save the tooth. When a tooth’s damage and decay cannot be salvaged through a root canal or pulpotomy, a tooth extraction may be necessary.
Tooth extractions are usually pretty straightforward and can be done at your dentist’s office. We use forceps to grasp the tooth then we move the tooth back and forth to loosen it and then eventually pull it from the socket.
More complicated tooth extractions that require incisions and stitches may need to be performed by an oral surgeon.An example would be teeth that are hard to remove and have to be cut into pieces before being pulled out. After teeth are removed there are many options for replacing them including:
Dental implants get placed into the jawbone where an artificial tooth is then attached to the implant.
There are many different types of dental bridges, which are artificial teeth that are attached to crowns and made to fit on neighboring teeth.
Removable dentures are artificial teeth that consist of a base that matches your gums. They can be secured by fixtures that connect to the surrounding teeth.
It’s understandable to be nervous about going to the dentist for any reason, especially for any of the above procedures. However, if your dentist is suggesting a specific procedure, it is likely because it can prevent a number of additional dental problems. Don’t ignore tooth pain and don’t brush off a recommendation from your dentist. At Felt Family Dentistry, we pride ourselves on offering exceptional care while educating our patients along the way. Contact us if you need a Davis County family dentist that you can trust.