So, you go in with tooth pain and your dentist gives you the news you always dread about – “I can’t save that one, you have to get it extracted.” Although both procedures can be painful, an extraction is more invasive and is an oral surgery that an oral surgeon performs while a root canal procedure is less invasive, and your regular dentist or endodontist can also perform this procedure. Your dentist will first check if your tooth can be saved and if not will recommend you for an extraction.
Root Canal VS Extraction
Whether a root canal is better than extraction, depends on the condition of your tooth. Your dentist will usually take an X-Ray to find out how severely your tooth is damaged. If the pulp, which includes living blood vessels, large nerves and connective tissues is damaged, decayed or diseased but if the rest of the tooth structure is strong and stable, the dentist will recommend a root canal. However, if there is structural damage to the tooth along with a severely damaged, decayed or diseased pulp, then the dentist will recommend an extraction. For this, your dentist may even refer you to another oral surgery practice. In a root canal procedure, the area near the tooth and the nerve will be numbed after which the dentist will clean the pulp and a material will be filled in which protects the area from further decay and damage. This rubber like material is called gutta-percha. A lot of times, you will require a crown that looks exactly like your tooth to be affixed on top to make the new structure strong and look great.
In case of an extraction procedure, you will be given local anesthesia to completely numb the tooth area. Then your oral surgeon will slowly loosen up the tooth and pull it out using special tools. Although this used to be a very painful procedure a long time ago, today with efficient pain management methods, you will only feel pressure during the procedure. Thereafter there could be some bleeding and pain for which you will be given a gauze to chew on and will be allowed to eat only soft foods for few days. With root canal and extraction, you will have pain following the procedures for which pain medicine will be prescribed. After an extraction, most likely an antibiotic will also be prescribed for a week to protect you from infections in that area. Obviously with extraction, there will be more pain than with a root canal and so you may be given prescription pain medication. You will also be instructed to apply ice packs to reduce the swelling which can stay for a few days after the extraction.
What is Cheaper – Root Canal or Extraction?
If you consider just the cost of the stand alone procedure, an extraction is cheaper than a root canal. The flip side to that however is that, in an extraction, there is a missing tooth that you need to get replaced either through an implant or bridge. Implants are usually considered to be better, but they also cost more so will require a better insurance policy. With a root canal, if you need a crown, it can again get expensive. Good dental and oral surgery clinics will often provide you with an estimate after running numbers with your insurance policy. Many practices also provide financing through credit providers.
Final Word – Dentists Mostly Opt for Extractions When the Damage is Beyond Repair
As patients, we try to avoid the trauma – both physical and financial that dental procedures come with and so we hope out dentist doesn’t recommend an extraction, but dentists usually prefer extractions only when the tooth is damaged beyond repair. Their first choice will always be to save the tooth. A lot of patients avoid extractions if they are not in pain even if the dentist recommends one but it is always better to get an extraction done when a root canal is not possible because a damaged and diseased tooth can lead to further infections and also spread the infection to nearby teeth. This has an impact on your overall health. It is therefore important to communicate and share your concerns with your dentist and understand why he or she recommends an extraction vs a root canal or vice versa. Your dentist or oral surgeon will guide you best and make sure you understand the pros and cons of both root canal and extraction procedures and then help you make the correct decision.