Root Canal vs. Extraction: Which is the BEST Option?

woman's teeth extraction in dental clinic

Stuck deciding between root canal therapy and tooth removal? Root canal vs. extraction debates are nothing new. But when you understand all of the root canal vs. extraction pros and cons, you can feel completely confident deciding which one is right for you. Make sure you read through all of the advantages and disadvantages so that you know exactly what you’re “getting into” before committing to a specific treatment. It’s not as hard of a choice as you might have thought it was.

Root Canal vs. Extraction Consideration 

A lot of the time people consider a tooth extraction vs. a root canal because they’re in pain, just want things “over with”, or have a problematic tooth they’re tired of dealing with. The quick solution usually seems like pulling the tooth and getting rid of it altogether. But sometimes what seems like the fastest and easiest option isn’t always the best choice.

What a lot of people don’t always consider is that with removing a tooth comes other, future needs. Like replacing it. But there are still times when removing a tooth is better than trying to repair it.[1]

On the other hand, root canal treatment also has a lot of reputation surrounding it. People think it’s painful, not worth it, or that it’s way worse than most other everyday dental treatments out there. But the reality is that getting a root canal is usually one of the last ways to preserve a natural tooth…and it can be done in a completely comfortable, pain-free manner.[2]

Root Canals

Yes, there are times where root canal vs. tooth extraction discussions heavily weighs in favor of endodontic treatment. Remember, root canals are basically like big fillings that run the length of the entire tooth. But instead of only filling the upper portion, you’re removing the nerve inside of it and filling in that void to seal out any bacteria in the infected tooth. If you have an abscessed or dying tooth, a root canal is your only method to save it. Otherwise, a tooth extraction is the last choice available. 

Pros

Modern endodontic treatment makes root canal therapy comfortable and efficient. It technically shouldn’t hurt during or after your procedure. Even though it might seem like it costs a little more initially, you’re preserving your tooth and that’s what matters. Root canals treat tooth pain and infection, helping you keep your natural smile for as long as possible. When you maintain a root canal-treated tooth, you’re avoiding a host of complications like changes in your bite alignment, having to replace the tooth with an implant or bridge, or cosmetic issues caused by missing teeth.

Cons

Most people consider the root canal vs. tooth extraction price the biggest disadvantage of endodontic treatment. Plus, there’s the fact that it just takes a lot longer to complete a root canal than it is to take your tooth out. But the investment actually saves you time and money, so it’s not as much of a “con” as what you might think it is. And no, root canal treatment doesn’t hurt or cause excruciating pain like you’ve heard in old wives’ tales. Modern equipment is extremely accurate and when paired with efficient numbing medications, your tooth shouldn’t feel a thing. The only exception is being sore where the injection was administered or in your jaw because of keeping your mouth open for a longer procedure.

Tooth Extractions

Is getting your tooth pulled easier than the “hassle” of root canal treatment? Maybe yes, maybe no. Emergency and therapeutic tooth extractions are often a go-to solution if you have an excruciating toothache or broken tooth. But an extraction vs. root canal isn’t always an equal comparison in every situation. Sometimes you need to take all of your teeth out to get dentures, for example. Or maybe you have really aggressive periodontal disease—a root canal won’t treat that—and if you can’t save your teeth, you might be extracting them and replacing them with dental implants.

Sometimes pulling a tooth really is the best answer to your dental problems.

Pros 

Compared to a root canal, extracting teeth is pretty affordable. Depending on where you live and the type of extraction you’re getting, you might be able to have a tooth pulled for around $100 or so ($75 usually the lowest price you’re probably going to see.) When you’re in pain or have a really bad tooth, getting rid of it may be the only thing you want. And since we have lots of great tooth replacement options today, having a tooth pulled isn’t as much of a life-changing event as it used to be before treatments like dental implants. 

Cons 

If you’re thinking that root canal vs. extraction prices are all that different, remember to consider that you’ll need to put some type of replacement tooth in place of your extracted one, which can add to the total cost of care. In fact, it’s probably going to cost you more for a tooth extraction, dental implant, and crown than it would be to pay for a root canal. You really can’t leave the area open because it will make all of the other teeth in your mouth start to drift out of alignment. The bone in that area will also start to shrink. Plus, there’s the fact that once your tooth is gone, it’s gone for good.[3]

Save the Tooth if Possible  

Ask any dentist anywhere, and there is probably a 99.9% chance (if not 100%) that they will tell you the best thing you can do in the root canal vs. extraction debate is to try to save your natural tooth whenever possible. They’re what’s best for your smile. Even if there’s a cavity, crack, or abscess, a root canal can help you get years more—decades even—out of your tooth. 

But if a root canal isn’t possible, the next logical choice is to have your natural tooth extracted. Especially if it’s non-restorable because of physical damage, infected tooth decay, or bone loss. Sometimes even if you want to try to save your tooth with a root canal, you can’t.

A lot of people assume that when they have a lengthy history of dental problems, it’s just easier to get all of their teeth pulled and replaced with a set of dentures. But in reality, doing so can cause a host of other unwanted side effects. Like irritating prosthetics, the inability to taste your food very well, and the changes you have to make in your day-to-day lifestyle.[4]

Root Canal vs. Tooth Extraction Price

The price of a root canal or tooth extraction can greatly differ depending on dental practice location if you have dental insurance and your individual case. Regardless, it's always cheaper to get these procedures done using a dental discount plan

Root Canal Price 

The cost of root canal treatment can easily range anywhere from $600 to $1,400, give or take. The price is impacted by which tooth it is, how many roots there are, and even which dentist or specialist you choose. Keep in mind that you’ll also need a crown on top of your tooth, which will add to the total root canal cost.

Tooth Extraction Price

If you want to have your tooth taken out, the cost of an extraction is normally far less, assuming we’re not talking about wisdom teeth removed under sedation. An emergency or basic tooth extraction usually runs from around $100 to $300, give or take. If you’re adding laughing gas onto the appointment, it might cost another $40 or so. But remember, you’ll need to pay for a bridge or implant in the near future, too.

Talk to a Dentist

If you’re stuck in the middle of weighing root canal vs. extraction pros and cons, that’s completely normal. Your dentist will work with you one-on-one to determine the best choice for your specific oral health situation. Once you fully understand all of the circumstances that come into play, you’ll feel a lot better about which decision you make. Remember, everyone is different. Just because one option was best for your friend or family member doesn’t always mean it’s what you need to do too. 

Root Canal vs. Tooth Extraction

When comparing root canal treatment vs. extractions, getting your tooth pulled isn’t always the best or cheapest answer. A root canal will help preserve your natural tooth and can actually save you money over time, plus be better for your overall dental health. But sometimes teeth are non-restorable and getting them removed is really the best thing to do. But always, always start with a consultation with your dentist. When you have a professional on your side, navigating the root canal vs. extraction pros and cons lists won’t be as intimidating as it sounds.

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