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    Extraction or root canal: Which treatment should I choose?

    When a tooth becomes damaged or infected, whether due to trauma, gum disease or tooth decay, you may be presented with two treatment options: extract the tooth or undergo a root canal. While immediate cost often plays a big role in treatment decisions, other factors may be worth considering, including recovery time, quality of life, overall health impacts and long-term costs. Let’s explore both options to help you determine which one makes the most sense for you.

    What is an extraction?

    An extraction is the complete removal of the tooth. This option is usually recommended when there is too much damage to the tooth to repair it. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons explains that extractions can be simple or require more extensive oral surgery, depending on the reason for the extraction and state of the tooth. The procedure is typically completed in one visit. The nature of your extraction will influence your healing time, but, in general, you should start to feel better within about a week.

    Because your tooth offers support to your jawbone, you are at risk for bone loss after an extraction. Jawbone loss can affect the appearance and functionality of your mouth and create problems with speaking and eating. To avoid this, your dentist or oral surgeon will typically recommend a bone graft immediately after the extraction as well as replacing your lost tooth with a dental implant to preserve your bone structure and maintain your mouth’s ability to eat, speak and smile normally.

    What is a root canal?

    According to the American Association of Endodontists, a root canal involves removing the pulp from inside an infected tooth. The pulp is the innermost layer of your tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissues. Infection in the pulp often happens when bacteria enter your tooth through a crack or cavity. After the pulp has been removed, the dentist will clean the inside of the tooth and fill the space. Depending on the tooth in question, you may receive a crown to restore the tooth to its full function. Root canals are typically completed in one or two appointments. Recovery time is generally about a week.

    A root canal can cost more than a simple extraction. However, because a root canal preserves your natural tooth, there is no need for a dental implant afterwards. Because of this, a root canal may be a less expensive option overall.

    Ultimately, the decision between a tooth extraction and root canal should be based on a comprehensive evaluation of the tooth’s condition as well as your overall oral health and individual preferences. Our team will be happy to walk you through both treatment options to help you decide what is best for you.