Alternatives to having root canal therapy.
While there is no other type of dental work that's directly comparable to having root canal treatment, you do have some options available to you when making a decision about what to do with your tooth. They include:
After discussing matters with your dentist, you may find that your tooth's treatment can be postponed until a time that's more convenient or affordable for you.
While seeming to be the cheapest and easiest fix, this option may turn out to be the worst choice over the long haul.
3) Have your tooth extracted and then replaced with a ...
This is the traditional alternative to having root canal. And this approach can provide a very suitable outcome.
Just a few decades ago this option didn't even exist. Nowadays it's so often the decision being made that we've dedicated a page specifically to this topic.
Extraction with tooth replacement can make a good alternative choice.
Electing to have a tooth extracted instead of root canalled can be an appropriate choice if you plan to have the missing tooth replaced.
However, you'll probably find that the cost of this approach is about the same, or possibly more, than just saving the tooth (even including the cost of placing a new dental restoration on the tooth after root canal).
[ Curious about how much different types of dental procedures cost? Use this link. ]
Make sure you know what you're getting.
While an extraction-with-replacement treatment plan can certainly make a suitable alternative to having root canal therapy, make sure that you ask your dentist a lot of questions about this approach before choosing it.
Saving your tooth is a way of preserving the status quo. In comparison, any type of replacement tooth will, at least in some way, be different than what you have now. Know what you're getting before you make a decision.
a) A removable partial denture.
Of all of the options that are available, replacing a missing tooth with a removable partial denture is probably the least favorable one.
When compared to the tooth that it replaces, a partial will be cumbersome and possibly a bit of a "mouth full." Some people may find its removable nature to be a nuisance. Over the long term, a partial can create a wedging or loosening effect on the wearer's teeth.
b) A dental bridge.
Placing a dental bridge is another way a dentist can replace a patient's missing tooth. Keep in mind however, when a bridge is made, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth's space are trimmed down (just like for a dental crown). This means that replacing a single missing tooth involves making irreversible changes with two other, previously uninvolved, teeth.
The cost of a dental bridge is likely to be more than salvaging a tooth with root canal treatment. And although a bridge is cemented in place and therefore feels solid like a natural tooth, a patient will find it more difficult to clean (especially flossing).
c) A dental implant.
A dental implant can provide an end result that is fairly similar to having one's original tooth, but this treatment approach typically isn't as cost-effective as salvaging a tooth with root canal treatment.
For a detailed discussion about this topic, use this link: Dental implant vs. root canal treatment: Which makes the best choice?
It may be possible to delay your root canal treatment until a time that's more favorable for you.
In those cases where endodontic therapy is needed, it's always best to go ahead and make plans to have it performed sooner rather than later.
In some cases, however, some type of treatment alternative may be needed due to a patient's travel plans, scheduling conflicts, the need for other dental work, or else financial considerations.
Your dentist may be able to temporize your tooth.
Treatment delays can often be accommodated. The dentist may be able to temporize the tooth by performing the initial steps of root canal treatment (the ones that can make it so your tooth feels better and is more predictable).
This temporization stage needs to be considered just that, a temporary alternative. Your dentist will need to outline for you what time frame they consider appropriate before your treatment must be resumed.
They must also discuss those precautions you need to take, and explain the signs and symptoms that may indicate that changes are occurring within your tooth. Temporization is never a first choice but rather a make-do one.
Only delay treatment after discussing matters with your dentist.
You should not make a decision to delay root canal treatment on your own. You need to discuss this matter with your dentist. Any tooth that is in need of root canal treatment, but has not yet received it, is not predictable. A tooth could remain asymptomatic for an indefinite period or, at the other extreme, could flare up (cause pain, produce swelling) at any time.
Even in those cases where a tooth remains quiet, any infection associated with it could cause damage to surrounding bone tissue. Also, teeth that have more established infections can be less responsive to treatment. Discuss your situation with your dentist. Let them explain to you what they would consider a reasonable time frame for the use of this alternative approach.