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When a Root Canal Isn’t Enough

If you’ve been experiencing a tooth ache that doesn’t seem to go away, or you’re noticing intense sensitivity to hot or cold, there’s a good chance your tooth needs to be saved from infection.

If your tooth’s pulp is significantly damaged and root canal treatment isn’t possible, the only viable alternative is to extract and replace the tooth. While many patients think “I don’t need the tooth, I’ll live without it.” It’s important to remember that to restore proper chewing and to maintain proper alignment, the empty space needs to be filled.


Root canal treatment is performed every day by dentists around the world. While it carries a reputation for being painful, the truth is that root canal treatment actually relieves the pain your feeling and, according to most patients, is no more painful or uncomfortable than getting a simple filling.

However, sometimes a tooth can’t be treated with endodontic therapy. This is generally because the root canals aren’t accessible, the tooth lacks bone support, or the tooth is severely injured.

Despite this, advances in the field of endodontics have made it possible to save teeth that once would have been impossible to salvage. In some cases, if endodontic treatment isn’t immediately possible, endodontic surgery is required as a first step to fix the root and repair bone and tissue with regenerative treatment.  With these procedures, it’s even possible to essentially regrow a new socket around a damaged tooth.

Is there an alternative to root canal treatment?

Sometimes, the cause of your toothache can be as simple as a small cavity that needs to be filled and hasn’t undermined the rest of your tooth. Other times, if infection and inflammation have reached deeper, the most common treatment is root canal therapy.

The most common root canal alternatives are dental implants and dental bridges, which both come with their own advantages and disadvantages.  In any case, root canal treatment is the best option for a few key reasons. When compared to a dental bridge (which won’t last forever, like your natural tooth) and an implant (which can be expensive) endodontic treatment is less costly, with the added benefit of retaining your original tooth.

Maintaining your original tooth is always preferable, not only because of the lower cost, but to simultaneously maintain the structure of your underlying bone and ensure the surrounding teeth stay healthy.

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