Root Canal vs. Wisdom Teeth Removal: Which Is the Right Treatment?

Root canal and teeth removal are the two procedures your dentist may use to treat damaged or infected wisdom teeth. Although severe toothache may tempt you to pull your tooth out, losing one may cause permanent damage to your smile unless you’re talking about impacted wisdom teeth.

If you’re concerned about your dentist performing wisdom teeth removal, remember that an alternative does exist. Whenever possible, saving your tooth should always be your primary choice. Once your tooth faces the danger of extraction, understanding your available options can help you make a sound decision.

When is saving the tooth possible?

Your dentist may be able to save teeth that have damage, disease, or suffering from dead pulp through a root canal treatment. The pulp, which is the innermost layer of the teeth, ensures healthy blood flow, which can get disrupted if you crack a tooth or develop deep cavities. These scenarios allow for bacteria from your mouth to reach the pulp, leading to infection, swelling, or death of vital pulp tissue.

Procedure and Aftercare

A root canal treatment is quite simple. After the dentist numbs the affected area, he will make an opening in the tooth, and then remove the dead or diseased pulp. Once the pulp is removed, the dentist will carefully clean the pulp chambers to ensure that there are no bacteria left behind.

The clean pulp chambers will then get filled with dental material to replace the damaged pulp. Afterward, your dentist may place a crown on top of the affected tooth to restore its appearance and strength. Depending on your tooth’s condition, you may have to go through multiple visits for your root canal treatment.

It’s normal to feel a bit of pain for a few days after the procedure. The pain you feel may vary — from a mild ache to acute or sharp pain. Your dentist may prescribe an over-the-counter painkiller to help manage the discomfort. If the pain you feel is too intense or keeps coming back, don’t hesitate to revisit your dentist.

When is wisdom tooth extraction practical?

In rare occasions, your dentist may tell you that there’s no other way to save your wisdom teeth. This may be the case if there’s already an infection, teeth crowding, or impaction in which your tooth can’t break through the gums. Wisdom teeth removal may become necessary if you experience any of the following:

  • Cysts or fluid-filled sacs
  • Damage to nearby teeth
  • Extensive tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Pain
  • Repeated infection of soft tissue
  • Tumors

Deciding to remove wisdom teeth can be a complex one. Talk to your dentist first about the position and health of your wisdom teeth to determine which is best for your situation.

The Exception to the Rule

Saving an impacted wisdom tooth is something you don’t have to worry about. Since it’s already in the wrong position that may lead to infection and damage to your other teeth, tooth extraction is the most viable solution. After the removal, you won’t even see any unsightly gap in your smile as the space will get gradually filled by healthy bone tissue.

Procedure and Aftercare

Before the tooth extraction, the dentist will first numb the affected area so that you don’t feel any discomfort throughout the procedure. Next, the dentist will try to loosen your tooth while it’s still in its socket. Once your dentist uses forceps to extract the tooth, you may feel a bit of pressure. After the extraction, your dentist may ask you to bite on a piece of gauze for at least 45 minutes to facilitate blood clotting.

It’s normal to experience light bleeding and facial swelling within 24 hours after the procedure. You can use a cold compress by placing an ice pack on the affected area to help reduce the inflammation. Remember, to avoid irritating the extraction site and promote healing, temporarily stick to a soft diet.

Listen to your dentist’s advice

After checking your damaged or diseased tooth, your dentist will recommend the best appropriate treatment based on his professional judgment. If you have concerns, don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist about them to get the assurance you need.

Choosing between a root canal and wisdom tooth extraction can be a challenging decision, but with a trustworthy dentist by your side, you can be sure you’ll be making the right choice for your pearly whites.