Root Canal Alternatives: What Are My Options?
When a fractured tooth can be saved by a dentist, then a root canal procedure is almost always the best way to make that repair. For patients who are too fearful to go through with the root canal, however, Dr. Richard Hamaty explains that there are still a number of other options that dentists can try.
A cosmetic dentistry specialist in Yorba Linda, California, Dr. Hamaty tells us that a root canal has been, and still is, one of the best ways to save a fractured tooth. However, now that dental implants have gained popularity during the past five to 10 years, more and more people are choosing to go with implants rather than root canal procedures to save their fractured teeth.
For anyone who has never had a dental implant, Dr. Hamaty explains to us how it works. A dentist will implant a device into the mouth where the fractured tooth was located, and then cap that implant with a restorative crown. In years past, dental implants were highly unpredictable and a positive outcome was less than certain. Now that the technology has caught up with the implant, however, the success rate in replacing one or more teeth is increasing and the procedure as a whole is being seen as far less risky.
If a patient at Dr. Hamaty’s cosmetic dentistry practice requests to have an implant instead of a root canal, then that does not necessarily mean that his or her outcome will not be favorable. Although Dr. Hamaty still recommends the root canal procedure above anything else, he explains that he also views the dental implant as another viable option to fix the problem – that is, unless the patient has multiple missing teeth. If a patient has multiple missing teeth, then he could elect to have the one tooth that would otherwise be fixed with a root canal taken out altogether. All of the missing teeth could then be replaced with a partial denture or some other type of similar device, says Dr. Hamaty.
Of course, patients also have the option to remove a fractured tooth altogether and restore the dentition with a bridge. The bridge would be used along the front and back of the tooth that gets extracted. The problem with this option, however, is that a dentist will have to destroy two perfect teeth to fix the one problematic tooth. As a cosmetic dentistry professional, Dr. Hamaty views this option as “unacceptable” in this current day and age, given the number of less invasive and less problematic treatment options are available.
Of course, before delving into all of the alternatives to a root canal procedure, a dentist is likely to try to find out why the patient in question is so afraid of a root canal to begin with. Since a root canal is a far better option than any of its alternatives, Dr. Hamaty always tries to discuss its pros and cons with patients before moving on to discussions of implants or bridges.
Through these discussions, Dr. Hamaty has learned that many people are afraid of root canal procedures simply because of the reputation that they have. Root canals are known for being very painful and very costly, but Dr. Hamaty emphasizes that oftentimes, that is not the truth so as much as the perception that some people have. Whenever one person has a bad experience, that person tends to tell his friends about it. That is how the bad reputation of root canals most likely began, says Dr. Hamaty.
There is a slight chance with a root canal, as with any procedure, that the patient could suffer an infection afterward. In other instances, the tooth could get fractured after the procedure.
When someone goes through an entire root canal procedure and then finds out that the tooth has been fractured and needs to be removed, Dr. Hamaty says that he might feel like he spent a lot financially and emotionally but got no positive results to show for all the effort. However, Dr. Hamaty says that this is a rare outcome and that people should not base their decisions on whether or not to have a root canal on the experiences of a few dissatisfied patients.
*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.