Dr. Stephen A. Price


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Save a Tooth or Pull It?

Save a Tooth or Pull It?

Price, Stephen DDS

When a tooth has been badly damaged by infection, extraction may seem like the best choice of treatment. Though no one really likes the idea of having a tooth pulled, pain can create the idea that extraction would be the easiest way to restore comfort. Perhaps this may sound like the easy choice, but pulling a diseased tooth may not be in your best interest. Here, we discuss why that may be.

Benefits of Saving a Tooth

  • Natural teeth are inherently strong. Natural enamel is one of the strongest materials in the body. Even if the tooth is damaged and needs a crown, the foundation of enamel and natural roots remains more durable against chewing and biting.
  • Treating the tooth is more comfortable. The recovery after treatment such as a root canal is quicker and more comfortable than recovery after tooth extraction. Plus, there are fewer risks and aftercare instructions that need to be followed.
  • There may be fewer visits needed to treat the damaged tooth than to extract it and then restore function with an artificial tooth, whether using a dental implant and crown or a dental bridge. Fewer visits also means lower cost.

How to Save a Tooth

In many cases, it is possible to save a tooth that has been damaged by infection by performing root canal therapy. This procedure removes the infected pulp material at the center of the tooth, as well as damaged enamel and dentin. All health parts of the tooth are left intact. The roots of the tooth are also removed and the root canals are filled with an inert material to seal out bacteria. When the tooth is restored with a dental crown, it looks and feels natural.

When Extraction is the Best Option

While it is preferable, it isn’t always possible to save a damaged tooth. Extraction may be the best treatment option when a tooth has been cracked in several places or has a crack that extends well below the gumline. Sometimes, a tooth is simply too weak to be restored.

In most cases, tooth damage can be avoided. One way to prevent the need for either root canal therapy or tooth extraction is to maintain regular visits with your dentist. To schedule your routine exam and cleaning in our Burke office, call (703)-935-2879.

Myths and Facts about Root Canal Therapy

Root CanalRoot canal therapy is a common dental treatment that is performed when a tooth has become deeply infected. Most people have heard stories about this beneficial dental procedure that don’t paint the best picture. The myths that revolve around root canal therapy can create so much confusion that a person may not know what to do when told they need this treatment. Here, we offer facts to offset the myths that may prevent you from obtaining the care you need to up-level your oral health.

MYTH: A root canal is a painful dental procedure.

The fact here is that most dental treatments were pretty uncomfortable at one time. When we say “at one time,” we mean over a century ago! Since the dawn of dentistry, a lot has changed. Where anesthetic was once lacking, it is now readily available. This is to say that, should you undergo a root canal, your dentist will numb your tooth first. If you’ve ever had a dental filling, you have a good idea of what it would feel like to have a root canal. The primary difference between the two is not a sensation but the time it takes to complete treatment. It’s that simple.

MYTH: A root canal is only necessary when you have a bad toothache.

Fact: Some people do experience pain that stems from an infection in the pulp chamber of a tooth. However, this is not guaranteed. An example of this is when a tooth’s blood supply is poor or non-existent or the tooth is no longer vital. Even without pain, an infection can occur and be seen on dental x-rays.

Myth: Pain goes away immediately after a root canal.

Fact: The primary benefit of root canal therapy is thought to be pain relief. Judging by the fact that a tooth may not even hurt before treatment, we can see this is a myth. Many people believe that, if they do have pain, it will be immediately relieved after their root canal has been treated. Sometimes, pain decreases gradually and may still feel sore for several days after treatment. This doesn’t indicate that a root canal has failed, just that there may be some lingering inflammation.

There is no reason to fear root canal therapy. Your comfort and future oral health are important to us and we take care of the recommendation and performance of dental procedures. For more information or to schedule your visit in our Burke office, call (703)-935-2879.

Root Canal Therapy – The Basics

Dental CheckupMany patients are apprehensive about root canal therapy, but this treatment can relieve pain, make eating and drinking easier, prevent future problems, and save your original tooth. Keep reading to learn more about root canal therapy.

What are the signs you might need root canal therapy?

Root canal therapy can save your tooth, so it is important to be aware of signs that root canal therapy may be necessary. Common signs include:

  • Teeth that are very sensitive to hot and cold temperatures
  • Chronic pain in your tooth or pain when you put pressure on a certain area of your mouth
  • Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
  • Sensitive, sore, red, or inflamed gums

Some patients need root canal therapy without noticing any problems. Be sure to schedule regular checkups with your dentist so that you can catch any problems as early as possible.

Why is this treatment important?

Root canal therapy is used to remove infected pulp from the inside of your tooth. Left untreated, the infection could spread and damage other parts of your mouth or result in the permanent loss of your tooth.

If, instead of ignoring the problem, you have the infection removed, the original tooth can be saved and restored. This can relieve pain, make it easier to eat and drink, prevent sensitivity, and help you avoid other oral health problems down the road.

What should you expect?

If you need root canal therapy, the dentist will start by taking an x-ray of your teeth to accurately assess the problem. The dentist will then formulate a treatment plan and numb the area being treated with a local anesthetic. This keeps the patient more comfortable and reduces the amount of pain. Then the infected material is removed from the tooth and the inside of the tooth is completely cleaned. Then the whole created during the procedure will be filled in using special material.

This treatment can save your tooth and help you protect your smile. If you’d like to learn more about root canal therapy and other treatments that can keep your teeth healthy, schedule a consultation with Dr. Stephen Price.

3 Root Canal Myths – Busted!

Models - 54Patients are often afraid of root canals. But if you don’t want to lose your tooth, a root canal is a great option for you. Here are the most common root canal myths debunked to help you make a more informed decision.

1. Root canals cause more pain than the original tooth pain.

While root canals aren’t entirely without discomfort, it’s a one-time procedure. You might have to go back for a checkup, but most of the time, the pain is over with very quickly. Compare that to a decayed tooth that can ache for days, weeks, or even months!

Need reassurance about the pain? Here are three great points to ease your mind:

– With current medicine and technology, root canals are relatively painless
– Sedation is available for root canal procedures
– Root canals are designed to relieve the pain of a decayed tooth

The myth of root canals being painful stems from an era of dentistry when anesthetics were not available and dental tools were unrefined. Root canal methods have improved greatly.

2. No pain? I don’t need a root canal!

Your dentist may recommend a root canal even if you haven’t been experiencing any significant pain. Just because you don’t feel anything doesn’t mean that your tooth is healthy! You might need a root canal if:

– Your tooth’s nerve and pulp have become infected due to decay
– Your tooth has been worked on extensively
– Your tooth has large or deep fillings
– Your tooth is chipped or cracked

Leaving a damaged tooth untreated can lead to even more severe damage, which may result in an extraction. Which leads to the next myth…

3. Extracting the tooth can spare you the hassle of having a root canal.

So your tooth’s gone bad. While you could save it with a root canal, you may as well just pull the tooth and get it over with. Right?

Not even close.

While current technology continues to move forward, there’s no artificial tooth that can perfectly replace a natural tooth. Extracting your tooth means:

– You’ll be paying more money
– You’ll have a longer recovery time
– You’ll have to be more cautious when eating
– You’ll have to adjust your neighboring teeth

Dental professionals , as a general rule, always try to save your natural tooth. It’s less expensive for you, both in terms of time and money. Plus, you get to keep what you were born with – natural teeth are the very best at what they do.

Hopefully you have a better understanding of why root canals aren’t so bad. If you need a root canal, call us to schedule an appointment!



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