Root Canal vs. Extraction: How to Decide

When a tooth hurts in your mouth it's not just painful, but truly an inconvenience. If it's bad enough to warrant a trip to the dentist, you may be faced with either a root canal or possibly losing the tooth. So how do you know which option is right for you?

At Woodland Lakes Dental Studio, our staff can take care of all your dental needs. Our expert dentist Dr. Gabriel Polo examines the problem tooth and discusses your options. He helps you decide whether a root canal is worth it or not.

When would I need a root canal?

A root canal is a procedure that’s performed on your tooth when there's damage to the pulp. The pulp is the innermost part of your tooth that contains the nerves and blood vessels that keep your tooth healthy. 

When the pulp sustains damage, it irritates the nerves in your tooth, causing pain and discomfort. If you don't take care of it in a timely manner, you could end up with an abscess.

There are several indications that you may need a root canal. Some of these signs include:

Another indication of a problem tooth is sensitivity to hot and cold foods, even after you stop eating them. 

What is involved in a root canal?

If we determine that you need a root canal, we schedule you for an appointment to clean out the damaged pulp. After thoroughly cleaning it, we fill it and seal the tooth back up. 

This is all done with a numbing solution injected around the area being worked on.

You may need to come back later for a dental crown to protect your tooth. After that, your tooth functions as normal again, and the durability of your tooth is restored.

All about tooth extractions

A tooth extraction is actually a pretty simple treatment. It involves removing the entire damaged tooth from the hole, or socket, in your bone. This can be done in one of two ways: simple extraction or surgical extraction.

Simple extraction

The first way is a simple extraction, which is performed with you awake. We inject a local anesthetic around the damaged tooth and remove it with forceps and an elevator, which loosens the tooth from its socket. 

We then remove the entire tooth from your mouth. After the numbing medication wears off, you’ll be a little sore, but back to normal in a few days.

Surgical extraction

The other option for an extraction is through a surgical procedure. This may be done if the tooth isn't visible because it hasn't yet broken through the gum. 

You may also need a surgical extraction if your tooth is broken or cracked and isn't easily removed. 

For this type of procedure, you’ll be under sedation and we extract the tooth by cutting open the gum where the tooth is. 

How do you decide between the two?

There are several factors that can go into the decision of you getting a root canal or having the tooth extracted. Ultimately, it's your decision — unless the tooth can't be saved. If your tooth is beyond fixing, we’ll probably recommend tooth extraction.

Extent of damage

We may not be able to fix a tooth that has unrepairable damage or is completely broken. In this case, we would recommend a tooth extraction. Root canals are only beneficial if enough of your tooth can be saved.

Cost

Another large factor in your decision is cost. Root canals can be costly, especially if you need a crown afterward. Although this isn’t always the deciding factor, it can play a role in which option you choose.

Other dental procedures

If you decide to have your tooth removed, it's important to know that you may need to get a bridge or dental implant to fill the empty space. 

Tooth removal can lead to problems with speech and chewing. Your other teeth can also move into the gap, which can cause decay and cavities. A bridge or implant can fix these issues.

If you have tooth pain, we’ll recommend which procedure is best given the circumstances. 

To find out if you need a root canal or an extraction, call our office in Conroe, Texas, or book an appointment online today.

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