An aching tooth can stem from one of several causes, including a crack, damage to the root, a cavity, or an infection. Cavities and surface cracks can usually be fixed with a simple filling, but deep damage to the pulp or root requires a more invasive procedure. The choice often comes down between root canal therapy or an extraction. The following guide can help you make the right choice for treatment.
#1: Know the Financial Cost Difference
A tooth extraction is generally seen as a less expensive option, ranging between $100 and $250 for the basic procedure. The price of a root canal can vary greatly, with the median cost falling between $700 and $900. While this may make an extraction seem like the more financially friendly option, keep in mind that there are other costs associated with the procedure. You will need to have an implant or bridge installed with a crown to replace the missing tooth. Otherwise, your teeth may shift and become unattractive or cause pain. The replacement tooth can easily cause an extraction to equal or surpass the cost of a root canal.
#2: Consider the Longevity of the Treatment
There are no false teeth available that equal the biting force of longevity of your natural teeth. This is why it is a good idea to work to save your natural teeth when possible. For example, while the implant post of an implant shouldn't require replacement, crowns last about 25 years. Crowns do not have the biting force of your natural teeth though, so they are more likely to break prematurely if you often eat hard foods or use your teeth as a tool.
#3: Understand the Treatment Length
Root canals are often associated with fear and pain, while extractions are seen as a quick fix. The truth is that a root canal isn't a necessarily painful procedure, since your mouth is completely numbed for the procedure. In fact, you may find yourself in less pain afterward since the infection and inflammation in your tooth has been removed. Recovery is relatively straight forward and usually requires nothing more than a short course of antibiotics. If you are fitted with a temporary crown, you will need to return to the endodontist a week or two later to have it fitted, but more and more endodontists now make their own permanent crowns in-office. This means no second appointment is necessary.
An extraction, on the other hand, is often more painful in the days after removal since the tissue now has trauma to heal from. You also have to eat, drink, and brush carefully to avoid painful infections or dry socket. Once healed, you will then need to consider replacement. Implants require several surgical procedures before the final crown is placed. Even bridgework will require a few visits to make casts and fit the bridge.
Contact an endodontist in your area, which is a dentist that specializes in root canal therapy, if you want to learn more about preserving your natural smile.