Root canals are performed when a tooth experiences nerve damage or decay. The procedures can be intimidating, uncomfortable, and even expensive. But when you’re having serious problems with your teeth and your dentist tells you that you need a root canal, what are you supposed to do? Many dentists may not inform you that there could be a root canal alternative as a possibility. Read on further to learn more about these possibilities and if they could save you from a painful root canal procedure.

1. Medication

Sometimes a dentist may be too hasty in the desire to perform a root canal. If your tooth’s condition is not severe and it’s simply suffering from an infection, medication could ward off the need for a root canal. It is possible that your tooth could respond well to antibiotics, so long as the nerves in your teeth have not been affected severely.

Simple antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medications are a great root canal alternative for those with mild symptoms and no current decay. Remember to always consult your medical team for all medication-related issues, including directions, dosage, and side-effects.


2. High-Quality Fillings or Crowns

Many times, a tooth is not as bad as it may appear. Damage and decay can vary widely by person and by tooth. If the tooth has not decayed and you are not experiencing any pain, fillings or crowns may be an ideal root canal alternative.

You may simply need to find a dentist that has more of a desire to save existing teeth, since many dentists may be quick to perform root canals. Be sure however, that these fillings or crowns are made of high-quality materials to ensure they last. Low-quality materials may not save your tooth at all and you could wind-up needing a root canal anyway.

3. Extraction

There are times when it will be much cheaper, easier, and less painful to just have the tooth removed. This root canal alternative is especially great for those with infected teeth towards the back of the mouth, since it is less of a cosmetic issue. Pulling a tooth takes a mere few minutes and many people claim it causes less pain than a root canal.

After extraction, you could replace the tooth with an implant, bridge, or partial denture. Some people however, do not see the need to replace the tooth (especially towards the back of the mouth); making this the cheapest and simplest alternative on the list.

extracting a tooth

4. Ozone Gas

In this root canal alternative, a dentist uses ozone gas to irrigate the root in your tooth. It penetrates beyond the drilled area and kills bacteria. This is a great alternative if your tooth’s nerves are not severely damaged yet. It allows the dentist to save more of your tooth and possibly avoid a root canal all-together. You must pay close attention to the severity of the damage however. Severely-damaged teeth may not benefit from this type of treatment.

5. Calcification Therapy

You may have heard of this procedure, also known as “biologic root canal” or “natural root canal.” This root canal alternative encourages the growth of calcium in a tooth with completely-dead nerves. A dentist removes all the dead tissue, cleans the root chamber with a special solution, and disinfects the area with a laser.

After the disinfection procedure, the dentist fills the tooth with a solution that mimics natural tooth calcification and seals the tooth with a biocompatible material that helps regenerate the tooth’s (and surrounding area’s) immune membrane. This alternative may not be cheaper, but it is less painful, less-involved, and saves more of your tooth.

6. Laser Nerve Treatment

Nerve-damage can vary widely. If your tooth’s nerves are only partially-infected, you could give this root canal alternative a try. During this procedure, a dentist uses a laser to disinfect and remove dead tissue. The laser also disinfects the rest of the interior of the tooth. The dentist then uses solutions that are designed to repair and heal the tissue.

After the root chamber has been injected with the solution, the dentist then repairs the exterior of the tooth with non-toxic inlays or onlays. Laser treatments are often used in many medical procedures; it offers precision without the use of toxic or harmful substances and tools.

7. Direct Pulp Capping

This root canal alternative is less expensive and simple, but also performed less-often than many others on the list. In fact, it may be hard to find a dentist who performs this procedure. Direct pulp capping is ideal for people whose nerves have not yet been infected.

While a traditional root canal involves hollowing out the tooth and removing all the nerves (pulp), this procedure attempts to save the tooth. The dentist thoroughly cleans the exposed nerve area and seals it with a special material that hardens, seals, and coats the nerves and tooth.

8. Natural Remedies

It should be no surprise that your diet and lifestyle affect your oral health. It is possible in some cases to heal dental infections through the proper lifestyle. As long as the tooth is not cracked, decayed, or in severe pain, you could try embracing healthier behaviors. Try following these diet changes:

  • Eliminate all processed sugar.
  • Eat high-quality proteins.
  • Avoid grain or flour products.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables.
  • Limit your fruit intake (only a few servings per day).

It is essential to understand that natural remedies can only go so far. If you are in pain or notice cracks and cavities, the infection may be beyond simply lifestyle-changes. Do not let the condition of your tooth deteriorate too-far with the hope of using a particular diet.

Final Thoughts

If you think you may not need a root canal, it is essential to gather a second opinion on your oral health. Root canals are sometimes unnecessary and it’s important to know the alternatives available to you. It may be possible to avoid a root canal all-together or receive a root canal alternative procedure that is more-ideal for you. First and foremost, consult your dental team with any and all oral-health concerns.