Unfortunately the only treatment options here are a root canal treatment or extracting the whole tooth. I’m not going to get into the various pros and cons of these treatments in this article. I just want to emphasize that an infected, abscessed tooth cannot heal and become a healthy tooth again.
Note that a gum abscess (which sometimes has a similar appearance to a dental abscess), definitely can be treated and healed. This may confuse some, and may be partly responsible for why I hear stories like “I didn’t need to do a root canal after all. I healed my tooth.”
MYTH #4: “YOU DON’T NEED TO TAKE X-RAYS ON ME TODAY UNLESS YOU SEE A PROBLEM.”
The point of taking X-rays is that they show things we cannot see visually. They have a tremendous value in early detection. Some X-rays are needed to clearly diagnose the source of a perceived problem. But if you understand my busting of Myth #1, then you see that not all dental problems are obvious or create symptoms. For example, one of the most common areas for decay to start is between the teeth where adjacent teeth contact each other. These will show up on “bitewing” X-rays many months before they are actually visible in the mouth.
The earlier a cavity is detected, the simpler and more conservative is the filling to repair it. If a cavity between the teeth goes undetected until it’s visible and obvious, then restoring the tooth may be a more extensive and expensive procedure than it needed to be.
So, we take X-rays periodically. We take them much more conservatively than many dentists. And we take them with a digital system, which is 70-90% less radiation exposure than the traditional dental film X-rays. We are not cavalier about exposing our patients to even this small amount of radiation, but the benefits are definitely worth it.