Is Tooth Extraction an Alternative to Root Canal Treatment?

Sometimes a tooth extraction seems preferable to getting root canal treatment. Pulling a tooth is typically less expensive and the procedure is faster and more straightforward — so why wouldn’t it be a good alternative?

In most cases, dentists and oral surgeons consider tooth extraction to be a last resort. If a root canal can save the tooth, that’s usually the right path to take.

tooth extraction vs root canal

When Root Canal Treatment Is Recommended

Dental professionals can often fully stabilize and restore problem teeth without resorting to extraction. A tooth repaired via root canal therapy can last a lifetime.

Generally, dentists perform root canals when decay spreads to affect the inner pulp of a tooth. The treatment can also be a smart approach for some infected and cracked teeth.

When Tooth Extraction Is the Only Solution

But root canal treatment isn’t always an option, because oral surgeons and dentists cannot save all problem teeth.

In cases where decay has begun to affect the root structure, extraction is usually necessary. The same goes for severely fractured teeth with damage extending to the roots. Also, when advanced gum disease or infection takes hold and other treatment measures prove ineffective, tooth extraction may be the only answer.

Deciding on the Right Treatment Approach

For some problem teeth, the decision about which treatment to use is easy. For others, the best course of action isn’t quite as evident.

If the need for tooth extraction is debatable, your dentist will offer an opinion on the best treatment approach. However, the final choice is yours. To decide, you’ll need to consider several factors:

  • Tooth location — Many patients prefer to hold onto their front teeth and any others that show when they smile, whenever possible. For teeth at the rear of the mouth, extraction may be a better approach.
  • General health — Patients who aren’t in the best of health may want to save their teeth if they can, as certain medical conditions and medications can affect the ability of the jawbone to heal properly from an extraction.
  • Procedure experience — While anesthesia makes both treatments almost painless, pulling a tooth is much quicker than getting a root canal. The latter treatment can take a few hours to complete.

Restoration is another crucial consideration. After extractions, dentists and oral surgeons advise patients to replace their missing teeth, and dental implants are the ideal option. Unlike a denture or dental bridge, an implant feels, looks and functions just like a natural tooth. What’s more, dental implants are the only type of tooth replacement that works to prevent bone loss in the jaw.

Has your Salt Lake City-area dentist recommended tooth extraction? If it’s too late for root canal therapy or if you’ve decided to get your problem tooth pulled, the professionals at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah can provide the treatment you need.

The Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah team offers a range of options to restore missing teeth. Contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office today to discuss root canal treatment, tooth extraction and dental implants.