When your tooth roots become abscessed or infected, there are generally two different approaches your dentist can take. They can remove the tooth from your mouth completely, or they can do a root canal procedure to remove the infected material and preserve your tooth. Most patients do opt for a root canal as it allows them to keep their teeth, but there are still some pros and cons to consider before you make this choice.
Pro: A root canal is relatively painless.
Although root canal treatments have a bit of a bad rap for being painful, they're actually not. It's the abscessed tooth that is painful. A root canal relieves the pain. You won't feel much, if anything, during the procedure as you'll be given a local anesthetic. Once the root canal is over, your pain will be gone, and you'll still have your tooth. Having a tooth extracted is more painful. Although you'll be given a local anesthetic during the extraction, there will be some soreness during the recovery period.
Con: You might end up needing to have the tooth extracted anyways.
When your dentist does a root canal, they are basically killing the tooth. You can keep the dead tooth in your mouth once it is covered with a crown for support, but sometimes this does fail and you end up needing to have the tooth extracted anyway. Talk to your dentist to see what they think the chances are of this happening in your case.
Pro: A root canal prevents the need for a dental implant.
If you were to have the tooth extracted, you would then need a dental implant to take its place and prevent the other neighboring teeth from shifting. Although dental implants are great once they are in place, they do have to be surgically implanted. A root canal allows you to avoid this process; you just keep the tooth that is there.
Con: A root canal may not completely clear the infection.
If the infection has spread beyond the immediate tooth root and into the gums or jaw bone, performing a root canal may not entirely alleviate the problem. You may also need to take antibiotics, and later on, have other teeth removed that became infected. Extracting the tooth, on the other hand, may put a more prompt end to things.
Usually, a root canal is a smart way of dealing with an infected tooth. Talk to your dentist if you have any more questions regarding a root canal.