Having A Tooth Removed Versus A Root Canal

On another blog I used to write, I had a motto, something along the lines of “we do the research so you don’t have to” I am happy to say that I have carried that motto over here to The Cottage Chronicles.

I recently had a couple of tooth issues, involving bottom back molars on both sides of my mouth. You’ll know from my previous posts where I was researching home cures for toothache that I was suffering quite a bit from the wayward teeth, so much that I finally had to give up the home remedies and head off to the dentist at the end of last week.


Yesterday was another day in the dentist chair, I am getting to be a regular in his office which, considering I am not a fan of dentistry in general, is not something I am particularly happy about. However, some things ya just gotta do in the name of research for your blog readers.

It seems I had two options to fix my toothaches, a root canal or tooth extraction. Being the good guy that I am, I thought, “Hey, I will subject myself to untold agony in the interests of my readers to discover which of the two procedures is the least painful etc.

So last week I opted for the root canal procedure for the problem tooth on the right side of my mouth. From what I can tell a root canal involves drilling out the bad part of the tooth, decayed part that is, and replacing it with ‘packing’ as the dentist called it, then sealing it up in the same way that a cavity is filled. Uh-huh….It was about 90 minutes in the dentists chair, trying to hold my mouth open, while trying to ignore the fact that I needed to pee and regretting the extra cup of coffee that I had enjoyed prior to the appointment. There was also a certain amount of um….discomfort….or as the dentists like to call it, “pressure” particularly when he was working around the nerve in my tooth. It was kinda a white knuckle experience at times, although my dentist is very good, infact he is excellent, somethings just aren’t all that pleasant.

However, I survived the root canal, and my mouth although a little tender for a couple of days, has gotten over it, and it’s fine.

So yesterday it was time for your fearless blogger and researcher to go back in, to face my fears and go for the tooth extraction, which was the procedure I chose for the tooth on the other side. I want to point out, I had a choice, I could have another root canal, or I could have the tooth removed, it was up to me. In the interests of research on your behalf, I went for the dreaded tooth extraction !!

I found it a much different procedure. There was a fair amount of freezing, again, you’ll feel some “pressure” when the needle first goes in, but it’s gone in seconds as the first of the freezing starts to work. So the doctor froze me up, and while we waited for that to take effect, his assistant and I watched a few minutes of Regis and Kelly on the overhead television, it was all very relaxing and pleasant, even though I wa…well…a little tense…and then he came back…..

I had the usual thoughts as he prepared his equipment, stuff like:

What if I have a heart attack when he pulls the tooth?

Is my mouth frozen enough or should I ask for another half dozen shots of freezing?

What if the roots of the tooth are really, really deep?

Are we sure it’s the tooth that is bothering me and not some psycological problem that would be better solved by a psychiatrist?

How much actual cutting of the gums is involved?

Is that tooth really bothering me, or can we call the whole thing off and he can move on to the next patient?

Is his assistant going to think less of me if I cry?

Are the other patients in the office going to be upset when they hear me screaming?

These thoughts, along with an image in my mind of the dentist kneeling on my chest hands in my mouth as he twists and turns and pulls on the tooth with a big pair of electrical pliars while his assistant, the lovely young woman who had enjoyed a few moments of Regis and Kelly with me, was now holding me down in the chair.

So while I was considering my last-minute-non-existant-options, the doc started poking around in my mouth a bit with something, he made a few quick little movements, said, something along the lines of, “This isn’t going to be easy” and I felt a bit of a grinding, some slight tugging and suddenly his fingers were out of my mouth, his assistant was vacuuming my gums with that suction thingy, and he said, “That was easy.” reminding me of the Staples advertisements…..

His assistant was smiling at me, she still had her mask on, but she was smiling, I know she was, that looked good….better that than a look of concern in her eyes or even worse, panic…..

As quick as that, they took the drool bib off me, raised the chair up, and said, “How do you feel?”

“I’m OK.” I said, “What happened, can’t get it out?”

“It’s out.” the doctor replied, “Nothing to it.” He gave me some instructions, told me to rinse with salt water the next day and avoid spitting….I don’t usually spit, but since he said that I have wanted to spit all day.

So…90 minutes of root canal versus about 30 minutes of extraction. I have to say, the extraction was certainly easier however not as a good if you need that tooth for say, eating….because if you do….you are in for a world of hurt….cause the next thing is replacing that extracted tooth with an implant !! You have to go to a dental surgeon for that……

So, here is my advice. Brush your teeth, floss, have regular checkups, and if all that fails….ask your dentist what he recommends because my research is inconclusive…..

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