What’s the opposite of politics and religion? Root canal treatment! If there’s one thing every American can agree upon, it’s that no one wants a root canal. If your dentist reports that you need a root canal, what are your alternatives?

Drs. Carson Ferris-Zeola and Vicki Uryniak will always, always, always suggest that you choose the best treatment so sustain optimal, long-term oral health and comfortable oral function — but everyone has options. In today’s blog, we’ll explain why a root canal is important, if suggested, as well as the only alternatives to a root canal.

What does it mean when the dentist says you need a root canal?

A tooth requires root canal therapy when infection develops in its core, in the soft pulp where the nerve lives. Bacteria can enter the core of a tooth through a faulty restoration, crack, or cavity. Pulp provides a warm, dark, and damp environment where bacteria will rapidly reproduce. The tooth’s nerve will die if infected, and a dead, infected tooth can cause serious complications with not only oral health, but overall health as well.

Option One: Get the Root Canal

When a tooth becomes internally infected, it is not salvageable. Root canal therapy (RCT) involves removing all infected and dead tissue from the tooth, replacing that tissue with a manmade material, and sealing the tooth with a crown to deter bacteria from re-entry. A tooth treated with RCT is no longer living. However, it can remain intact, as long as the infection is removed.

Option Two: Extract and Replace the Infected Tooth

If you refuse root canal treatment, to protect your health the infected tooth must be removed, and the infection along with it. You can opt for tooth extraction. This should be followed by replacing the missing tooth with a dental implant or bridge. Even for back teeth that don’t show when you smile and speak, replacing them is important so that occlusion – how upper and lower teeth fit together when the mouth is shut – and dental alignment in general are not negatively impacted. Missing teeth allow space for other teeth to drift out of alignment. This can lead to additional wear on remaining teeth, as well as TMJ disorder and cosmetic issues.

Option Three: Wait (Dangerous! Not recommended!)

If you’re an adult, you can opt to do nothing about your infected tooth. This is a dangerous and unwise choice. Dental infection can enter the bloodstream, causing heart and overall health problems. You should also understand that dental infection will not go away on its own. An infected tooth must be removed or it will remain infected and die. The infection can then spread.

Second Opinions on Root Canals

If you feel uneasy about the diagnosis of needing a root canal, talk with the other dentist in our office. If you’re not a patient of Walnut Pond Dental in Annandale, NJ, call us at 908-200-7007 and ask for a second-opinion consult about root canal therapy. We will be happy to evaluate your oral health, x-rays, and other records, then provide a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan. If your tooth can be saved with a dental crown, a root canal may not be necessary.