top of page

Extraction or Root Canal: What’s Better?

Preparing the patient for dental extraction.

Cavities and tooth decay are among the most common health issues worldwide. Constant snacking, eating sugary foods, and poor oral hygiene can end up causing bacteria in your mouth to produce acid that erodes the enamel.

A root canal and tooth extraction are the only courses of action when an infection reaches the pulp inside the tooth. Without treatment at this stage, the cavity may spread to the roots and gums, damaging the tooth and surrounding areas, and even leading to life-threatening abscesses.

In fact, 9% to 20% of adults avoid visiting the dentist due to dental anxiety and fear. Knowing your treatment options for tooth decay may reduce your dental phobia. Discover the pros and cons of root canals and tooth extractions, so you can make an informed decision.

What Is the Difference Between Tooth Extractions and Root Canals?

Whether you choose to have a root canal or an extraction depends on whether you want to keep the infected tooth or have it removed. Depending on how badly damaged the tooth is, your dentist might recommend one of these two options.


This is typically performed when the infection has spread below the gum line and the tooth's structure is compromised. In such cases, the only option is to extract the affected tooth from the socket to protect your overall dental health.

Throughout the treatment, local anesthesia is used to numb the area. Therefore, you will not experience any discomfort as the doctor extracts the damaged tooth with a special tool. However, you may experience some pain afterward. To manage any discomfort, your dentist will typically prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers.

Root Canal

The goal of root canal therapy is to save the infected tooth while reducing the possibility of reinfection. An x-ray will be taken by your dentist or orthodontist to determine the severity of the infection and the number of infected teeth.

As part of the procedure, the dentist will drill into the damaged tooth to remove the infected pulp and then fill the area with antibiotics. After cleaning and disinfecting the area, they will fill the tooth and seal it with gutta-percha. Afterward, your dentist will remove the temporary filling and restore full function to your tooth.

The entire procedure is carried out under the influence of local anesthesia. You may experience discomfort and pain as a result of the treatment, but this is treatable with antibiotics.

Extractions vs. Root Canals: Pros and Cons

Advantages of Extraction

When a tooth becomes infected, it can quickly spread to the rest of the teeth. By removing the infection, a dental extraction not only reduces pain and discomfort but also protects the oral cavity's health.

The Side Effects of Extraction

A dental extraction leaves a space in your mouth that can increase your risk of infection. If a blood clot does not form naturally in your empty socket after tooth extraction, it can lead to a condition known as dry socket, which leaves the exposed bone to bacteria. In such cases, your dentist will apply a sedative dressing to the area until a new clot forms.

Additionally, exposing your jawbone through a gap in your dental cavity can cause complications for the teeth on either side. The teeth might weaken or shift around, resulting in overcrowding and misalignment. As a result, it is critical to consult with your doctor about dental implants prior to tooth extraction.

3D illustration of root canal treatment.

Advantages of Root Canals

  • Since the treatment eliminates bacteria from the tooth cavity, it prevents infection from spreading to neighboring teeth and improves overall dental health.

  • The final step in a root canal treatment is to fit your tooth with a crown or dental filling that matches the color of your original tooth. In addition to restoring your tooth's functionality, it enhances your beautiful smile.

  • You will also no longer have to worry about a missing tooth or a gap between your teeth.

  • The procedure restores your natural tooth while preventing the deterioration of your jawbone.

The Side Effects of Root Canals

Even though root canals have a success rate of 86% to 98%, cleaning the inside of your teeth can be difficult. If the procedure is not performed correctly, the enamel may be damaged. Sometimes the dentist will miss a canal, making it nearly impossible to remove the infected pulp completely.

If you notice any swelling or pain at the treatment area for more than a few days, or if any of the symptoms you experienced before the treatment return, contact your doctor right away.

Choosing a dentist with extensive experience performing root canals is essential to avoid any complications after the treatment.


Tooth extraction may appear to be a less expensive and simpler option than root canals, which can cost $500 to $1,500 or more. However, when you consider the cost of treating realignments, bridges, and dental implants, extractions may end up costing more in the long run. Root canals, on the other hand, are typically a long-term solution to tooth decay.

What Makes a Root Canal a Better Option

When deciding whether to keep your natural tooth or have it extracted, most dentists recommend the former. Though a missing tooth can be easily replaced thanks to recent advances in dentistry, it will never be the same as your natural tooth.

Furthermore, extractions, and subsequent dental procedures such as implants and bridges, take much longer to heal than root canals. However, it is critical to understand that in some severe cases, extractions may be your only option.

When Do You Need an Extraction?

Some instances where extraction might be your only choice include serious infections in wisdom teeth, irreparable root damage caused by tooth decay, overcrowding, accidents, and gum disease.

Schedule an appointment with the experienced dental healthcare professionals at Clay and Associates DDS, PLC when you have a severe toothache or suspect you have cavities. Our team will consult with you to determine whether root canals or extractions are the best options for you. Get in touch with us today to learn how we can help you take care of your beautiful smile!


Featured Posts

Recent Posts


Search By Tags

Follow Us

  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page