If Dr. Rod Strober has diagnosed you with an infected tooth (sometimes also called an abscessed tooth), you need to get it treated. An infected tooth is one of the few dental conditions that can turn deadly in a relatively short time. If you leave an infected tooth untreated, you may feel terrible one day with a spiking fever then be dead a day or two later. It’s that serious.
However, if you have an infected tooth, you have two good treatment options to choose from: root canal therapy and extraction, followed by dental implant placement. It’s important to understand both options so you can make an informed decision and choose the one that’s right for you.
What Is Root Canal Therapy?
Most people don’t know what root canal therapy is. In root canal therapy, we remove the infected living part of the tooth, called the pulp, and replace it with inert, nonliving material.
Dr. Strober will first drill into the middle of the tooth and clean out the infected part. It will be rinsed and decontaminated. Then Dr. Strober will fill the tooth with inert material, often gutta-percha (a rubber-like substance), but possibly other materials. Dr. Strober will insert a metal post if the tooth needs additional support. Then we seal the treated tooth with a filling or a dental crown.
How Is a Dental Implant Placed?
Dr. Strober will first extract your infected tooth to place a dental implant. If the area around the tooth is infected, Dr. Strober might have to treat that infection or perform a bone graft before placing your dental implant. Otherwise, the dental implant simply screws into your jawbone.
The dental implant is only a tooth root. At first, it doesn’t have the visible part of the tooth–the crown–attached to it. Dr. Strober will evaluate the stability of the dental implant after placing it. Usually, the implant is stable enough that Dr. Strober can place an abutment (connector) and a temporary dental crown on the implant.
However, if the implant isn’t stable enough, he might elect to cover the implant with gum tissue and let it heal for a few months before placing the dental crown on top.
Are These Procedures Painful?
We know that root canal therapy has a reputation for being painful. However, it is not especially painful. Its reputation comes from when dental anesthesia was unreliable and sometimes not even an option.
With modern dental anesthesia and sedation dentistry, you don’t have to feel a thing from either of these procedures. Neither dental implant placement nor root canal therapy causes significant discomfort during the procedure.
Immediately after the anesthesia from your root canal treatment wears off, your treated tooth may be a little more painful than it was when infected. However, within a day or so, the discomfort will drop to less than what it was before treatment.
Dental implant surgery is slightly less uncomfortable. It is less than for an extracted tooth, so you likely won’t notice extra discomfort if you get an extraction done and an implant placed at the same time.
Which Procedure Takes Longer?
In general, the two procedures take about the same amount of time, but the time required for root canal therapy and dental implant placement depends on the situation.
If your infected tooth has multiple roots, cleaning out and filling them can take time. This can make the procedure take much longer. Standard dental implant procedures take less time than root canal therapy. However, if we perform an extraction during the same procedure, it can take longer. Even with the extra time, it still usually takes less than root canal therapy. Sometimes, a complicated tooth root might require longer to extract, but that same tooth would need all its roots filled during root canal therapy, so the implant procedure is still usually faster.
Which Requires More Care: a Treated Tooth or an Implant?
Here is some good news about these procedures: they don’t require special care.
Once we treat your infected tooth, you simply have to treat it like an untreated tooth. Brush, floss, and make your regular dental visits.
Brushing and flossing should be done a little more carefully to make sure you clean correctly around the dental crowns. Dental implants take a little more care to keep clean, but it’s not much.
Which Should I Choose?
Usually, both dental implants and root canal therapy are good choices. However, you will have to choose a dental implant if your tooth is too badly damaged to get root canal therapy. Otherwise, there is a slight preference to get root canal therapy first. Even after treatment, your natural tooth will have some advantages over a dental implant. Plus, when your natural tooth likely fails after ten or fifteen years, you can still get a dental implant.
Get Root Canal Therapy or a Dental Implant in Rancho Mirage
If you are considering root canal therapy or a dental implant in Rancho Mirage, let our dentist, Dr. Rod Strober, help. Dr. Strober is an experienced cosmetic, restorative, and implant dentist. He can help you decide which is the best procedure and then perform that procedure for an attractive, functional, and healthy tooth or tooth replacement.
To talk about your options with Dr. Strober, please call (760) 832-7915 or email us to schedule an appointment at Country Club Dentistry in Rancho Mirage.