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Are pain pills and antibiotics an acceptable substitute for root canal?

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Let's make this a really short article. The answer to the question in a word is... NO.

Next question.

OK for those who just can't accept a simple answer and are like me always asking, "why" I will elaborate.

Most of the time when we do perform root canal treatment we do use antibiotics and often pain medication. This is used simply to treat the initial symptoms that often occur of pain and sometimes swelling. Both are typically caused by infection.

While this will initially settle the situation to the point where it is much more tolerable, it is by no means a solution. I usually tell my patients that I placed on antibiotics and pain medication that they have about three and maybe four weeks before the symptoms recur. That few week time frame is when the root canal treatment should be performed.

I will admit that in the course of treating teeth over the last 25 years (no getting old jokes please) I have had patients that came in swollen and in pain who I put on antibiotics and then didn't see again for the better part of a year. They then returned yet again in pain for the same tooth. Like death and taxes (particularly in Illinois today) you can't avoid the need for treatment.

You CAN avoid the root canal. Simply take the tooth out. But assuming you want to keep your tooth when you have been on the antibiotics it is just time to get the treatment done. You'll only be putting off the inevitable if you don't.

Antibiotics and pain medication are often a needed part of root canal treatment. But they are not a substitute for it. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security when the tooth feels so much better. Now is the time to get the final treatment completed.

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