Root Canal vs. Tooth Extraction: What to Expect

  • Dental Health   •   March 15, 2022

Both root canals and extractions have numerous myths surrounding them. The myths have created a poor reputation for both dental care treatments.

Realistically, each treatment is suitable for certain situations when it comes to protecting your oral health, minimizing the spread of bacteria, and preventing future dental issues.

Here we will discuss root canals versus tooth extractions, when each is needed, and which is better for your mouth.

Root Canal Therapy

A root canal is a routine dental procedure designed to preserve the health of your mouth. It has a number of benefits in saving your natural tooth and ridding the mouth of harmful bacteria.

What Is a Root Canal?

root canal is an endodontic procedure that involves removing the diseased pulp, nerves, and connective tissue from an infected tooth. During the treatment, the dentist uses special tools to enter the tooth and remove bacteria from the infected root canal. The roots of the tooth are cleaned out and sterilized before being filled with gutta percha to seal out bacteria. Usually, a dental crown is placed atop the tooth to protect it from further damage.

How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

Root canal treatment requires the dentist to be very precise to ensure all of the damaged tissue is removed before sealing the tooth. It can range from simple to complex depending on the type of tooth that is affected. This then affects how long the procedure takes

For example, molars have more canals than a front tooth. This adds to the time needed to clean out and sterilize the canals. Treatments may take one to three hours to treat a single tooth. 

How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?

A number of factors affect the cost of a root canal, including:

  • Type of tooth
  • Location in the mouth
  • Extent of damage or complexity of the case
  • Insurance coverage

Many dental insurance plans cover a portion of the cost of root canal therapies. If you need a root canal, contact your insurance company for details about your benefits or ask about in-house savings plans to cover the cost of your treatment.

Tooth Extraction

Unlike a root canal which saves a portion of your natural tooth, a tooth extraction involves removing the tooth (crown and root) completely.

When Is a Tooth Extraction Needed?

While a dentist’s goal is ultimately to save your natural tooth, there are times when tooth extraction is necessary. The reasons for a tooth extraction include the following:

  • Making room in a crowded mouth
  • Preparing for orthodontia
  • Removing infected material from the mouth
  • Reducing the risk of infection
  • Preventing future problems, such as with impacted wisdom teeth

What Is Involved in a Tooth Extraction?

Tooth extractions may involve removing a primary or permanent tooth that has already erupted or a tooth that is still beneath the gum line. 

simple extraction involves removing a visible tooth. The dentist numbs the area before using special forceps to wiggle the tooth out of the socket.

In a surgical extraction, the tooth has not yet erupted or may have broken off at the gum line. In these cases, the process is more complex and involves an incision to extract the tooth from the gums.

Is It Better to Get a Root Canal or a Tooth Extraction?

Salvaging your natural teeth is your ultimate goal. Whenever possible, your dentist will try to save your tooth. By at least keeping the root in place and using a restoration to strengthen the damaged natural tooth, your jaw bone stays healthy and the adjacent teeth stay in place. This helps prevent future problems such as shifting teeth, bone loss, and gum disease.

Root canals remove the bacteria from your mouth and have a high success rate in saving your tooth.