Root Canal or Extraction: Which Is Right for Me?

Dental Emergencies 3 | Dental Images of Oklahoma City

If you’ve got a tooth that’s badly damaged, you’ve got two choices for dealing with it: a root canal or extraction. Dr. Kevin Layton performs both procedures in our Oklahoma City, OK dentist office. So how do you decide which one is right for you?

There are a number of factors to consider, including:

  • Extent of your dental damage
  • Time or schedule constraints
  • Your budget

We’ll recommend one of the two procedures when damage to your tooth affects its pulp, or soft center. If the pulp is affected, it won’t be possible to repair damage with a dental restoration like a filling or crown.

We will walk you through all of the considerations and help you choose a procedure. Call Dental Images of Oklahoma City at 405-395-2283 to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, we’ve provided some information here that may also help you make your decision.

Difference Between a Root Canal and an Extraction

The biggest difference between a root canal and an extraction is what happens to your tooth. The goal of a root canal is to keep your tooth intact. An extraction completely removes the tooth. In general, it’s a good idea to save a tooth if you can. An intact tooth helps keep your other teeth in place. And the tooth root stimulates your jaw, keeping it healthy and strong. Without stimulation, the bone in your jaw begins to deteriorate. Over time, this causes problems.

With a root canal procedure, Dr. Layton uses special tools to remove damaged pulp, thoroughly cleaning the interior of your tooth to ensure no infected material remains. Then he fills the inside of your tooth with a rubbery material called gutta percha. The final step is sealing your tooth with a filling or dental crown to prevent further damage from occurring.

With an extraction, Dr. Layton loosens your tooth with an instrument called an elevator then removes it with forceps. If your tooth is broken at the gumline, he’ll surgically remove it.  

The Kind of Damage Makes a Difference

When determining whether a root canal or extraction is more appropriate, we’ll look at the nature of your dental damage. If the overall structure of your tooth is compromised, not just the pulp, we may recommend an extraction. If a cavity or crack in the tooth is deep enough that it extends below your gumline, we’ll also likely suggest removing the tooth.

If just the pulp is compromised, a root canal makes sense because we can remove the pulp along with bacteria that can lead to an infection.

What About the Time?

A root canal typically takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the extent of damage to the tooth. Even a complicated extraction rarely takes more than an hour. So on the face of it, the extraction is quicker. However, most people take longer to recover from an extraction. With an extraction, it’s common to experience some bleeding and swelling for up to 24 hours.

There’s no bleeding with a root canal. You should experience little, if any, discomfort. The area may feel a bit tender, especially if you had an abscess. But you won’t have to change your diet or oral hygiene routine in the days following root canal therapy.

Root Canal or Extraction: Which Costs More?

On the face of it, a root canal procedure is more expensive than an extraction. It will cost at least $1,000, including the cost of a dental restoration like a crown. The cost of an extraction, in contrast, shouldn’t be more than $500. However, if you opt to replace a tooth after an extraction – and we recommend you do – that will likely make the costs of the procedures quite similar.

The Anxiety Factor

Whether you get a root canal or extraction, you’ll likely feel some anxiety. It’s understandable. We’ll thoroughly numb you before either procedure so you won’t feel a thing. We also have amenities in all of our care rooms, like soft blankets and TVs. So you can get cozy and catch up on a favorite program while we work. You can also get inhaled sedation (“laughing gas”) to further relax you. It takes effect quickly and wears off quickly too, so you can even drive yourself home after your procedure if you feel up to it.

Whether you end getting a root canal or extraction, there’s a lot to consider. Call us at 405-395-2283 if you have any questions or need to schedule an appointment.


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