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Root Canal vs. Extraction: How Do You Choose?

Dental Pain or Discomfort Solutions in Montgomery, AL by Dr. Chet Swatzentruber of Carmichael Dental Care

If you’ve got a badly damaged tooth, you may be looking at a choice of root canal vs. extraction. While neither procedure may exactly appeal to you, the one you choose can affect many aspects of your dental health.

Our dentists will likely suggest one of the two procedures when damage to your tooth affects its pulp, or soft interior. If the pulp is affected, they won’t be able to repair the damage with a dental restoration like a filling or crown.

When looking at root canal vs. extraction you’ll want to consider:

  • How badly your tooth is damaged
  • How much time you have for a procedure
  • Your budget

We’ll walk you through all of the considerations and help you choose the procedure that is best for your situation. Call Carmichael Dental Care at 334-600-1423 to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, we’ve provided some information here that may also help you make your decision.

Root Canal vs. Extraction: What Happens During the Procedure

With a root canal vs. extraction, the biggest difference is what happens to your tooth. The goal of a root canal is to keep your tooth structure intact. Your tooth is removed with an extraction.

Our dentists use special tools to remove damaged pulp during a root canal, cleaning out your tooth’s interior to make sure no infected material is left. When the problematic pulp is gone, they fill the inside of your tooth with a rubbery material called gutta percha. For the final step, they use seal your tooth with a filling or dental crown to protect it from further damage.

For an extraction, your tooth is loosened with an instrument called an elevator then removed with forceps. If your tooth is broken at the gumline, our dentists will surgically remove it.  

What’s Wrong With Your Tooth?

In general, it’s advisable to save a tooth if possible. An intact tooth helps keep your other teeth in their proper places. The tooth root is important too; it stimulates your jaw, so it stays healthy and strong. Without stimulation, the bone in your jaw begins to deteriorate. Over time, this causes dental problems and also makes your face look older.

When considering a root canal vs. extraction, our dentists will carefully examine your tooth using tools like digital X-rays and an intraoral camera. Two factors will likely lead them to recommend root canal therapy:

  • The overall structure of your tooth is compromised, not just the pulp inside your tooth
  • The tooth has a cavity or crack that is deep enough to extends below your gumline

If only the pulp is compromised, we’ll be able to remove the pulp and bacteria that can lead to an infection. While the decision is yours, we’ll probably recommend a root canal procedure.

Root Canal vs. Extraction: Time, Money & Anxiety

Three factors you’ll want to consider when making your root canal vs. extraction decision:

  • Time involved
  • Cost of the procedure
  • Your anxiety about the treatment

Consider Recovery Time

A root canal typically takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on  how damaged your tooth is. Removing a tooth takes far less time; even a complicated extraction shouldn’t take more than an hour. However, it’s also important to consider recovery time. With an extraction, it’s common to experience some bleeding and swelling for up to 24 hours. You’ll also need to make some changes to your diet and your oral hygiene routine for at least a few days.

 

A root canal involves a less complicated recovery. You should experience little, if any, discomfort and no bleeding. The area may feel slightly tender, especially if you had an abscess. But you won’t need to modify your diet or oral hygiene routine after your root canal procudure.

Consider Tooth Replacement Cost

 

At face value, a root canal costs more than an extraction. It will cost at least $1,000, including the cost of a dental restoration like a crown. In contrast, tooth removal shouldn’t be more than $500. However, if you opt to replace a tooth after an extraction, the costs of the procedures will be quite similar. Depending on the tooth replacement you choose, the extraction total could be more than the root canal. While not replacing a tooth is an option, that’s likely to be the costliest choice of all. If you don’t replace a tooth, you’re opening yourself up to more expensive dental issues down the road.

We’ll Ease Your Anxiety for Either Procedure

Whether you get a root canal or extraction, you may feel nervous. It’s understandable. Our dentists will numb you with local anesthesia before either procedure so you won’t feel a thing. We also have amenities in all of our care rooms, like soft pillows, TVs, and headphones. So you can catch up on a favorite program while our dentists work.

If you’re still nervous, you can choose one of our two forms of safe dental sedation:

  • Inhaled Sedation – Also called “laughing gas,” it takes effect very quickly and wears off quickly too. There won’t be any lingering grogginess, so you can even drive yourself home if you feel up to it.
  • Oral Sedation – We’ll provide you with a prescription pill you can take prior to your procedure. It offers a more deeply relaxed sensation than laughing gas. You won’t be able to drive after taking it, so you’ll need to arrange transportation.

There’s a lot to consider when making the root canal vs. extraction decision! If you have any questions or need to schedule an appointment, call Carmichael Dental Care today at 334-600-1423. You can also  fill out our online form to request an appointment in Montgomery, AL.

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