Essenmacher Family Dental

Preserving or Removing: The Root Canal vs. Extraction

tooth with root canals

When facing dental issues like a damaged or infected tooth, many individuals naturally ask themselves, “Should I get root canal or extraction?” Maintaining optimal oral health is essential for our general well-being since it influences not only our capacity to speak and eat but also plays a significant role in our self-confidence.

In some cases, untreated dental issues can even lead to serious infections that may impact our heart health. With this in mind, it’s crucial to explore the options of root canals and extractions to determine the best course of action.

In this post, we will explore the specifics of these procedures to help you decide whether to keep or remove a tooth that’s in bad shape.

What Is Root Canal Treatment?

A procedure called a root canal is used to preserve a tooth that has suffered significant damage or decay. The process involves removing the inflamed pulp within the tooth’s pulp chamber and cleaning and sealing the area with a biocompatible material. This therapy uses special tools by root canal specialists to remove the source of infection and prevent its spread.

When Is Root Canal Treatment Necessary?

  • Multiple Dental Procedures. Having multiple procedures on the same tooth can cause stress to the tooth and may lead to inflammation or infection.
  • Faulty Crown. A crown that doesn’t fit correctly or is not properly sealed can allow bacteria into the tooth, leading to infection.
  • Crack or Chip in the Tooth. Bacteria may enter the tooth pulp through a chip or crack and cause an infection or inflammation. This may result in an abscess or maybe tooth loss if left untreated.
  • Deep Decay. If a tooth has extensive decay that has penetrated the tooth’s pulp chamber, a root canal is often necessary to remove the diseased pulp and prevent the spread of infection.
  • Severe Pain. Persistent and intense pain, especially while chewing or applying pressure to the tooth, is a common symptom of inflamed or infected pulp, indicating a potential need for a root canal treatment.

What Are the Benefits of Root Canal Treatment?

  • Tooth Preservation. A successful root canal treatment retains the natural tooth structure and eliminates the need for artificial tooth replacement.
  • Preventing the Spread of Infection. By removing the diseased pulp, the root canal procedure stops the spread of infection to adjacent teeth.
  • Maintains Natural Appearance. Post-treatment, a crown is typically added to the tooth, preserving the natural appearance and contributing to a healthy smile.
  • Suppresses Dental Pain. The root canal relieves intense dental pain by targeting the source of infection within the pulp chamber.
  • Cost-Efficient. In the long run, root canal treatment is often more cost-efficient than extraction and subsequent replacement with an artificial tooth.

What Is Tooth Extraction?

A tooth extraction is a medical treatment used to remove a tooth that is causing problems from its bone socket in the jaw. It’s commonly used for severely damaged teeth beyond repair, extensive decay, or alignment issues like a misaligned bite. Dental professionals use specialized tools to loosen and then remove the tooth to ensure the health of neighboring adult teeth.

Post extraction, it’s crucial to follow aftercare instructions, which may involve the use of over-the-counter pain relievers. Depending on the clinical situation, the extracted tooth can be replaced with an artificial tooth as a replacement option to maintain a natural smile.

When Is Tooth Extraction Necessary?

  • Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease). This is an infection of the tissue and bone supporting and encircling the teeth. It could be essential to extract one or more teeth if this illness has caused the teeth to become loose.
  • Crowded Teeth. To prepare the mouth for orthodontics, dentists occasionally extract teeth. Correct tooth alignment is the aim of orthodontics, but if your teeth are too large for your mouth, this may not be achievable.
  • Impacted Teeth. As your wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, start to come in, there may not be enough room in your mouth for them. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause infection, decay, gum line, and facial swelling. Often, it is best to remove impacted wisdom teeth to prevent potential issues.
  • Broken Tooth. If a tooth is severely broken or damaged, it may need extraction and replacement with a dental implant or bridge.
  • Risk of Infection. If your immune system is endangered (for example, an organ transplant or chemotherapy), a tooth extraction may be necessary, even if there is a chance of infection.

What Are the Benefits of Tooth Extraction?

  • Immediate Pain Relief. Extraction provides immediate relief from severe dental pain, especially in cases of extensive decay or a huge cavity.
  • Stops Spread of Infection. Removing a problematic tooth can prevent the spread of infection to other healthy teeth and tissues.
  • Creates Space. Extraction is beneficial for crowded or misaligned bites, as it creates necessary space for the alignment of neighboring teeth.
  • Cost-Effective. In terms of immediate cost, extraction is often cheaper than a root canal, making it a feasible choice for severely damaged teeth.
  • Reduces Risk of Complications. Extracting a dead or decayed tooth reduces the risks of further complications like jawbone infections or periodontal diseases.

Root Canal vs. Extraction: What Are the Differences Between Them?


A root canal involves:

  • Extracting an infected pulp
  • Cleaning and sealing the tooth
  • Using a filling or a crown for restoration

Tooth extraction, however, numbs the area, loosens the tooth with an elevator, and removes it fully using forceps, sometimes requiring a surgical incision. The key distinction is root canals aim to keep the natural tooth and require multiple visits, while extractions remove the tooth, often demanding further replacement treatment.


Generally speaking, root canals are more expensive than extractions since they are a more complicated procedure requiring more specialized equipment and skills. The costs of a root canal treatment can range from $700 – $1000 without insurance, while an extraction can range from $75 – $300. However, the long-term costs should also be factored in as extractions usually require future dental work like bridges or implants.

Pain Levels

Both procedures involve some level of discomfort during the surgery. The root canal procedure itself is relatively painless as it involves the removal of the nerve from the tooth. In contrast, extractions involve surgical procedures to remove the entire tooth, which can incur more immediate pain. However, modern anesthesia has made both processes much less painful than in the past.

Recovery Process

The recovery process for a root canal tends to be shorter than that of an extraction. Most people are able to go back to their regular lives the next day after a root canal treatment. Following an extraction, however, patients are advised to rest and avoid certain activities for a few days. Pain, swelling, and discomfort are typically higher and may last several days post-extraction.

Long-Term Impact

Root canals and tooth extractions help improve oral health by addressing severe tooth decay, abscesses, dry sockets, or infections. Preserving the original tooth structure with root canal therapy can prevent other teeth from shifting and maintain the alignment of neighboring or adjacent teeth. It also helps protect adjacent teeth from excessive wear or strain.

Conversely, tooth extraction, especially if the gap left isn’t promptly filled, can affect the positioning of adjacent teeth and lead to potential alignment issues.


Root canals and tooth extractions include pain management, infection prevention, and specific care instructions. Antibiotics may be prescribed for root canals, and hard foods should be avoided until a permanent filling or crown is placed. Following tooth extractions, care involves:

  • Letting a blood clot form in the socket
  • Refraining from rinsing forcefully
  • Avoiding smoking and using straws and alcohol
  • Painkillers can be taken as prescribed

Should I Get My Tooth Pulled or a Root Canal?

Choosing between extraction and root canal therapy depends on many factors, including the extent of tooth damage, your overall oral healthcare, and the condition of the mouth. If the tooth is severely damaged, has a deep infection, or if preserving the natural tooth structure is not possible, extraction might be the best option.

Conversely, if the tooth can be saved, root canal treatment can be a great solution as it preserves the tooth and maintains its functionality and natural appearance. It’s a challenging decision, and it’s best to consult with dental professionals to understand your options clearly. They can provide comprehensive instructions and consider your current symptoms and dental health condition.

Choose Excellence in Dental Care: Schedule a Consultation With Essenmacher Family Dental Today

When faced with the decision of whether to get a root canal or pull a tooth, it is crucial to consider the individual circumstances and consult with dental professionals. At Essenmacher Familial Dental, our expert team is committed to providing personalized care and helping you be well-informed about your dental health.

Whether it’s preserving your natural tooth through a root canal or opting for extraction, your health is our priority, and we strive to give you the best care possible. So, if you find yourself asking, “Should I get a root canal or pull the tooth,” trust Essenmacher Family Dental to guide you toward the ideal answer for your dental health requirements.

Make an appointment with Essenmacher Family Dental today to start along the path to a beautiful and healthier smile!