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Root canal vs extraction: Which is better for you?

February 22, 2024

Tooth pain can be unbearable, particularly if it persists. Dental professionals have two procedures at their disposal to address damaged or infected teeth: root canals and tooth extractions. While deciding between root canal vs. extraction can be challenging, understanding both methods can aid in your decision-making process.

At first glance, extracting the tooth appears to provide immediate relief from pain and seems like the cheaper, more effective option. However, despite extraction being a preferred choice over retaining an infected tooth, it may have adverse consequences in the long term. In reality, if feasible, opting for a root canal is typically preferable to extraction.

When Can Teeth Be Saved?

Teeth can be saved using root canals if they have damaged, diseased, or dead pulp but are otherwise viable in your mouth. The pulp, which is the innermost layer of your teeth, supplies healthy blood flow to each one, but it can become damaged due to a cracked tooth or a deep cavity. In such cases, bacteria from your mouth can reach the pulp, causing infection, swelling, or the death of vital tissue within the pulp.

When Should They Be Extracted?

Sometimes, your dentist can't save a tooth, so it has to be taken out. This might happen if you have a big cavity that weakens the tooth too much to fix. It may be advisable to have your tooth extracted if it is badly cracked or damaged. A tooth with a crack that goes below the gumline may also need to be removed.

Root Canal vs Tooth Extraction: Understanding the Differences

Aspect Root Canal Tooth Extraction
Procedure Root canal treatment involves numbing the area, making an opening, removing diseased or dead pulp, cleaning pulp chambers, filling with Gupta-percha, and may require multiple visits. Tooth extraction includes numbing the area, loosening the tooth with an elevator, extracting with forceps, and typically involves minimal discomfort.
Preservation of Tooth Root canal preserves the natural structure and integrity of the tooth, retains functionality, and avoids the need for replacement options. Tooth extraction results in the loss of the natural tooth and may necessitate consideration of replacement options.
Healing Time Healing time for root canal treatment varies, with discomfort usually subsiding within a few days, and may require follow-up visits for monitoring. Tooth extraction healing typically takes at least two weeks, with light bleeding and swelling normal for about 24 hours post-procedure.
Post-Procedure Discomfort Discomfort after root canal treatment can be managed with over-the-counter painkillers, while severe pain warrants prompt dental consultation. Tooth extraction involves minimal discomfort during the procedure, with clotting of blood flow and the use of ice packs to reduce swelling.
Long-Term Dental Health Root canal treatment preserves the natural tooth, preventing issues like shifting or misalignment, and reducing the risk of bone loss. Tooth extraction may require replacement options to maintain oral health and prevent issues associated with tooth loss.
Cost The average cost for a root canal treatment in the United States ranges from $700 to $1,200 per tooth. The average cost for a tooth extraction is between $75 to $300 for a simple extraction and $150 to $650 for a surgical extraction. 
Aesthetic Considerations Root canal treatment maintains the natural appearance of the tooth and may involve crown placement for added strength and aesthetics. Tooth extraction results in the loss of the natural tooth, leading to aesthetic concerns, and may require consideration of replacement options.


How Do You Decide Which Procedure to Choose?

When should you choose a root canal over extraction

Your dentist will suggest the procedure that suits you best. Typically, the aim for most dentists is to preserve the tooth rather than extract it outright. Thus, unless the tooth is too severely damaged to salvage, they will likely recommend a preservation procedure like a root canal. While this may appear to be an upsell since root canals are pricier than extractions, preserving a healthy tooth, whenever feasible, is usually a wiser choice for your oral health than extraction.

When should you choose a root canal over extraction?

Dentists usually suggest procedures like root canals to save your tooth. But why? Apart from maintaining a seamless smile and preserving tooth functionality for chewing and speaking, opting for tooth extraction can significantly alter your appearance. When a tooth is extracted, it exposes the jawbone to decay. Additionally, the adjacent teeth may start shifting towards the empty space, leading to changes in your jawline within as little as six months, resulting in a perceived acceleration in the aging process.


In the debate between root canal vs. extraction, the optimal choice depends on several factors, such as the tooth's condition, oral health goals, and individual preferences. While root canals strive to preserve natural teeth and maintain oral function, extractions may be necessary when preservation isn't feasible. Ultimately, consulting with a trusted dental professional can provide personalized insights and recommendations tailored to your specific needs. Make an informed decision about your oral health and embark on the path to a healthier smile today.

Ready to make an informed decision about your dental health? Book an appointment with Avalon Commons Dental Care in Orlando, FL, today. New patients can call us at (407) 606-7209 while existing patients can reach us at (407) 601-4206.


Is a Root Canal Safer than Tooth Extraction?

Root canal treatment is considered safer than extraction because it aims to preserve your natural tooth. After extraction, a vacant space remains in the mouth, potentially becoming a breeding ground for bacteria. This can lead to infections that may spread to adjacent teeth.

Should I Opt for Extraction Instead of a Root Canal?

It's typically advised to extract teeth with severe pulp damage, indicating that the infection has advanced beyond the effectiveness of a root canal procedure. Moreover, there are scenarios where teeth should be extracted, even if they haven't reached the stage of advanced pulp damage.

Why is Tooth Extraction not recommended?

After tooth extraction, the bone at the extraction site may shrink, leading to potential shifts in the rest of your smile. This shift can place excessive stress on the remaining teeth, potentially accelerating tooth loss or decay.

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Parkway Dental Care Kissimmee
1064 E Osceola Parkway
Kissimmee, FL 34744
New Patient: (407) 635-1196
Current Patient: (407) 932-2273
Avalon Commons Dental Care Orlando
14811 E. Colonial Dr. Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32826
New Patient: (407) 606-7209
Current Patient: (​407) 601-4206
Avalon Commons Dental Care Orlando
14811 E. Colonial Dr. Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32826
New Patient: (407) 606-7209
Current Patient: (​407) 601-4206
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