Unless you’re a dentist you may not be inclined to celebrate National Root Canal Appreciation Day, which falls this year on May 11. But maybe you should. This treatment is necessary when the pulp inside your tooth becomes infected. Once that happens, the only two options are extracting the tooth or performing a root canal. 

You know what happens during an extraction: your tooth is removed. During a root canal, your dentist removes the infected pulp, cleans and disinfects the inside of the tooth, and fills it with an inert material that maintains your dental structure. Usually you also get a dental crown, to strengthen the tooth and protect it from further damage. 

You may not be too excited about either option. However, in many cases, keeping the tooth may be the better choice. Here are four reasons why:

  • Quicker and Easier Recovery – You’ll feel like yourself again far faster after your procedure. When a tooth is removed, bleeding can continue for 24 hours or so. You’ll need to change your oral hygiene routine and diet for at least several days to avoid discomfort and/or dislodging the blood clot that accompanies healing. In contrast, there is no bleeding following a root canal and little if any discomfort. Most commonly, your jaw may feel tender from holding it open for an extended period. 
  • Teeth That Stay in Place – If you don’t replace your tooth shortly after it’s extracted, the teeth surrounding it can shift out of place. This affects not only how your smile looks, but also how it functions. Your bite can become misaligned, which can cause difficulty chewing, jaw pain, and other problems. 
  • No Need for Additional Procedures – To avoid the problems associated with a missing tooth, we recommend replacing it. This means follow-up visits and added expense for you. In addition, no replacement tooth will look and feel as natural as your own tooth. 
  • Jaw That Stays Strong – When a tooth is extracted, the roots are removed along with the tooth. Without the stimulation provided by these roots, you lose bone density in your jaw – up to 25 percent in the first year alone. Over time this makes you look older and can cause dental problems too. With a root canal, you will keep your tooth roots so your jaw remains intact. 

Pain is the primary symptom of an infected tooth. However, you may also notice a bump or swelling on your gums, a tooth that is sensitive to heat or cold, or dental discoloration. If you experience any of these issues, call Andover Smiles ASAP at 978-396-3935 for an appointment in our North Andover, MA office. We’ll get you in as quickly as possible for an exam.