While your teeth are meant to last a lifetime, damage from cavities, gum disease, and trauma can cause them to weaken and become susceptible to infection or decay. The result can cause tooth discoloration, swollen gums, and severe pain when you chew and move your mouth.
In many cases, symptoms occur because the inner layers of your tooth, called the root canals, have been damaged. This hollow section of your tooth leads from the top of your tooth to the tooth root. Its contents are called pulp, which includes nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue.
Depending on the source of damage and the condition of the affected tooth, you may benefit from a root canal or dental implant to relieve pain and restore full dental function.
A professional dental examination and X-ray can determine whether a root canal or dental implant is suitable for your damaged tooth. With seven locations in southern Florida, SEDA Dental makes it convenient to get an accurate diagnosis for a throbbing and painful tooth. Our team of dental experts can determine the degree of damage and advise an appropriate course of treatment.
Find out how a root canal and dental implant differ and what to consider when deciding which treatment is the best course of action.
How an infection threatens your tooth
When a deep cavity or hole in your tooth develops from decay or damage, harmful bacteria can penetrate the area and attack the tissue. A destructive and painful infection can occur.
Without treatment, the bacteria can attack and destroy the internal structures of your tooth. Eventually, the health of your entire tooth, down to its roots, is threatened.
When an infection spreads to your tooth roots, it can cause pulp death, bone deterioration, and the need for removal of the damaged tooth.
How a root canal can help an infected tooth
A root canal refers to the procedure that treats infections that occur in the root canal of an infected tooth. While the procedure is technically endodontic therapy, it’s commonly called a root canal.
A root canal can help save an infected tooth and prevent the need for tooth extraction. The procedure involves cleaning the dead or infected pulp from the root canals of the affected tooth. After the debris is removed from the canals, the empty area is filled with a rubber-like substance and sealed to permanently protect the canals from bacteria and fluid.
The importance of saving a tooth
When you lose a tooth, the gap creates an imbalance in the natural structure of your mouth. When a gap exists, your teeth, facial muscles, and nerves naturally compensate for the missing tooth. Your remaining teeth gradually move into the gap, which can weaken the remaining teeth and create unnatural gaps elsewhere along your gumline.
Root canal therapy allows your natural teeth to remain in place, This keeps the natural line and strength of your jaw, allowing you to maintain your natural biting force. It also avoids compromising the health of your adjacent teeth with tooth replacement options like bridges.
When an extraction is your only option
While root canal therapy can help save an infected tooth, it may not be appropriate if there is extensive damage to your tooth roots or gumline. When this occurs, your tooth can lose its ability to remain secure and function normally. Leaving the infected tooth in place could risk spreading the disease to other teeth and potentially other areas of your body.
If your tooth is damaged by injury or impact, you may be left with a small or irregularly shaped portion of your tooth. Without a sufficient portion of your tooth remaining, you can’t support a dental crown or other cosmetic solution to cover the damaged tooth. Your dentist may recommend a tooth extraction to preserve your oral health in these cases.
How dental implants work
When you have a gap along your gumline due to a missing tooth, a dental implant can restore the natural function and appearance of your mouth. A dental implant is designed to function as an artificial tooth root.
With a dental implant, a titanium post is anchored permanently into your jawbone. This provides stability similar to a natural tooth root because the bone around the implant grows around it and keeps it in place.
A porcelain crown, or artificial tooth cap, covers the top of the rod. This customized crown is made to fit the open gap and blend in with your natural teeth.
In addition to helping to keep your natural teeth in place, a dental implant stimulates the underlying jawbone to keep it healthy and growing normally. This can preserve your oral health, including your teeth and gums.
Want to find out more about choosing between a root canal or dental implant? Contact any of our offices for a consultation.