When a patient learns they may be a candidate for a root canal, there are a few questions commonly asked. Often one of the first questions asked is, “What are alternatives to a root canal?” An endodontic specialist may suggest an alternative treatment depending on your oral health and unique situation.
This blog post is purely for educational purposes so that you can be an empowered patient. Since there are so many individual variables, it isn’t intended as a substitute for personalized dental care.
What is a Root Canal?
Dentists usually recommend a root canal to save an infected tooth rather than just extracting it all together. A root canal is a multi-step process starting with x-rays and a thorough examination. Next, the provider gives the patient local anesthesia then removes the damaged tooth pulp. The provider thoroughly cleans the inside of the tooth, re-fills the tooth with gutta-percha, then reseals the tooth. The dentist usually installs a temporary filling to protect the tooth until the patient can receive a permanent crown.
A root canal is minimally invasive, and most patients recover within a few days. Ironically, many people fear root canals, but most find that the procedure relieves them of pain they had been suffering for weeks, if not longer. However, modern dentistry continually advances. We now have treatments that are even less invasive than a root canal and work just as well for some patients.
Whichever treatment option you and your dental provider decide on, a root canal, GentleWave® cleaning, or endodontic surgery are all options that may relieve pain, restore health, and preserve natural teeth. All are essentially alternatives to tooth extraction. So we encourage you to discuss these matters with your dental provider keeping an open mind to both root canals and other alternative treatment options.
What Are the Alternatives to a Root Canal?
In many cases, a root canal is the best treatment option for a patient’s needs. Dentists perform more than 14 million root canals per year.
When you trust your mouth to an experienced endodontist, the professional is an expert at performing traditional root canals and their alternative treatments. However, an informed patient may appreciate knowing the alternatives.
State of the Art Deep Cleaning as an Alternative to a Root Canal
Depending on the severity of the damage to your tooth, you may be a candidate for a root canal therapy that isn’t a traditional root canal. The GentleWave® procedure is a state of the art deep cleaning method that can reach areas that conventional root canal techniques can not reach as effectively. It leverages sound waves and fluid dynamics. Often this treatment is a one-session treatment. For some patients, this is a highly effective alternative to a root canal.
We, at Ballantyne Endodontics, are pleased to include GentleWave® among our treatment options.
Surgical Alternatives to a Root Canal
In some cases, a root canal isn’t enough to save the tooth. Sometimes Endodontic surgery is the best option. The surgery can work better in cases where the patient’s canal anatomy is complicated, and there are tiny canals that don’t clearly show in X-rays. Surgery offers the opportunity to treat damaged bone and root surfaces.
An Apicoectomy is a specific procedure most likely seen as a more invasive alternative to a root canal. During this operation, the provider makes an incision in the gum tissue exposing the bone and surrounding tissue. They remove damaged tissue and refill the area using root-end filling then reseal. The special root-end filling helps prevent reinfection. The bone naturally heals around the root.
While an Apicoectomy makes the list for alternatives to a root canal, it is important to note that this procedure is really an alternative to extraction when the root canal needs additional treatment.
Finally, the ultimate alternative is tooth extraction. We want to note that as endodontists, we strive to preserve natural teeth whenever possible. A root canal is often the best alternative to extraction, and patients are typically happy they opted for a root canal after a short healing period. They enjoy their natural bite without the pain and infection they previously endured.
Next Steps: Exploring Your Options
Talk with your dentist about your treatment options. In many cases, seeing a specialist like an Endodontics practice will give you access to the latest, most effective treatment options.
A skilled Endodontist can identify which treatment alternative is most appropriate for your needs. Be sure to ask for a referral to an Endodontist who offers the GentleWave® procedure. For many patients, it is the most attractive alternative to a root canal. Keep in mind that in some cases, a modern root canal may be the best option.
We at Ballantyne Endodontics, are honored that Charlotte-area residents trust their teeth and their wellbeing to us. We strive to offer each patient compassionate care and the best care possible. If you need an Endodontist or want to look into alternatives to a root canal, ask your dentist for a referral or contact us today.