Which Is Better – Root Canal Or An Extraction?

teeth model used by dentists

When you go into a dental office with a tooth ache, your dentist can either tell you that you need fillings or a root canal or even worse, that the tooth can’t be saved and needs to be extracted. Root canals and extractions can both be painful but extraction is a lot more invasive and is accompanied with other procedures that need to follow, such as implant surgery and probably a sinus lift, if the tooth is located on the upper jaw, in the back. A root canal is more straightforward compared to an extraction. You may also need to see an oral surgeon for the extraction process if your regular dentist does not perform such procedures. An endodontist or a regular dentist can easily perform a root canal and put in the crown for you later on. Your dentist will mostly do a dental exam and take x-rays to check if your tooth can be saved with a root canal or if it needs to be extracted.

Root Canal VS Extraction

Whether your dentist recommends a root canal or an extraction, depends on the kind of damage your tooth has. X-rays and dental exams will show the extent of infection your tooth has. A root canal is advised if the pulp that contains the large nerves, living blood vessels and the connective tissue is infected or decayed but if the remaining part of the tooth’s frame is not damaged and has the strength to hold the crown. Therefore, partially infected or damaged tooth can be restored by root canal. However, if the tooth is completely damaged or infected, there is no way that it can support the crown. A severely compromised structure will not support any sort of cleaning, fillings or crowns. In such cases, the dentist advises the patient to undergo extraction. In a root canal, the dentist gives a local anesthesia to numb the tooth area and the nerve. The dentist then cleans up the pulp of the tooth and fills it up with a protective rubber like material called gutta-percha. This secures the tooth from getting infected again. A crown that resembles your original tooth in terms of dimensions and color will be attached later on. Until then, your dentist will take measurements and affix a temporary crown.

In an extraction, the dentist or oral surgeon will give you a numbing anesthesia near the base and around the tooth. The tooth will then be slowly loosened up in order to make the extraction easier. After the tooth is loosened up, the tooth will be removed. Although this sounds scary, it is mostly a quick and smooth procedure. You will be given a gauze to hold in order to control the bleeding and you will also be prescribed pain medications for the next few days. In addition to pain meds, oral surgeons mostly prescribe a dose of antibiotics in order to prevent infections. Moreover, after the extraction procedure, your anesthesia should stay for a few hours so you will be pain free until you get home. You will be advised to eat soft foods for a couple of days after the extraction procedure. Being a surgical procedure, you will experience more pain as compared to with a root canal but this can be effectively controlled by medications and cold compresses.

What Is Cheaper – Root Canal Or Extraction?

As a single procedure, an extraction is cheaper than a root canal but flip side to that is that after an extraction, you need to replace the missing tooth with a bridge or an implant. Implants look and feel like natural teeth but are more expensive than a bridge. Getting an implant is also a very long procedure. For example, after an extraction, you may be called in for an implant surgery after 3 months and then again after a couple of months to get the crown. Getting a bridge is a little quicker and easier but implants are said to be better. A crown is also require after a root canal but since there is no implant and bone grafting involved, the process is faster. Having a good insurance policy helps in covering such costs, at least partly. We, at Gentle Care Dentists provide you with an estimate after running numbers with your insurance policy so that you get an idea of how much your insurance will cover. We also provide financing through Care Credit.

When do Dentists Recommend Extraction?

As patients, we resist invasive procedures and also like to avoid the large dental bills. Dentists however, only recommend extractions when the tooth cannot be saved and is severely infected or damaged. The first choice is always to restore the tooth. Many patients think that they don’t need extractions because they are not in pain but a dentist will recommend one if the tooth is diseased, so that the infection should not spread to other parts of your gums, teeth and body. It is highly important to communicate and talk to your dentist in order to know why a certain procedure is recommended.

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