I had what looked like a pimple in my gums that got big, popped, oozed pus and blood, etc. So I went to get it checked out. X-rays show a large dark area around the root of the tooth, which is I believe tooth #6--the front tooth next to the eyetooth on the top.
The dentist says that there is a large abscess in the bone at the root of the tooth, and that the root of the tooth has been dead for a while and is leaking infection (or bacteria, or whatever) into the bone at the tip of the root.
He said that because the root of the tooth is dead and the infection is based inside the tooth, there is basically no chance that it will heal on its own, and will continue getting worse if I don't either extract the tooth or have a root canal.
He is a mercury-free dentist familiar with many of the concepts of wholistic dentistry, although I'm not sure if he's technically a wholistic dentist or not. He did say that a lot of his patients choose to opt for extractions and bridges due to concerns about the possibility of problems or subclinical infections in root canals. He's quite willing to do that. However, he pointed out that a bridge requires removing part of both teeth on either side, and especially in this location, will likely have to be replaced in a few years. He feels that a root canal would be a better option for that tooth in that location and situation.
Also, it would cost about $4,000 for an extraction and bridge, as opposed to about $400 for the root canal. Since it's a front tooth with only one canal, it will not be a difficult root canal to access or perform, so that gives a higher chance of being able to completely get the root out, along with some of the surrounding tooth to make the canal bigger, disinfect the canal, and seal it effectively.
With it being a front tooth, simply extracting the tooth and not putting in a replacement is not an option I want to consider.
I already have a root canal on the corresponding tooth on the other side of my mouth. So this will give me a total of two root canals. I am gradually replacing amalgam fillings with composite ones, also.
I know there is concern about leaving bacteria or a subclinical infection in the root, but I also have to realize that I've had an infection in the tooth and a huge abscess in the bone for months or possibly a year or more now, and it seems like a tiny amount of bacteria sealed into the root of the tooth would certainly at least be an improvement over that.
I am thinking that at this point maybe the best thing would be to go ahead and have the root canal, and then if it doesn't work out well or I see a decline in my health, to then consider the extraction and bridge if we can afford it at that time (a big if when it's $4,000--or $8,000 if I end up doing it with both of those teeth).
I do trust this dentist to do a good job and clean out and disinfect the root canal very carefully, and he will be using mercury-free materials.
I don't know what other options there would be at this point other than a root canal or an extraction and replacement, and the second option is just plain prohibitively expensive. If I knew with certainty that it would have a drastic negative effect on my health, it might be worth trying to see if we could swing it, but with it costing so much that is a real problem. Also at least one of the teeth next to it already has pretty extensive fillings, and I'd hate to remove more of that tooth as would be needed for a bridge.