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For a badly damaged tooth, the usual two options are a root canal or extraction. Dr. Rick Barfield performs both procedures in our Plano, TX dentist office. The good news is, neither one is a big deal, thanks to advanced technology like our 3D imaging and a choice of three kinds of dental sedation. So how do you decide which treatment is the one you need?

You’ll need one of them if damage to your tooth has affected its pulp, or soft center. If the pulp is damaged, we won’t be able to repair your tooth with a dental restoration like a filling or crown.

Dr. Barfield will walk you through everything you need to know and help you choose a procedure. Call 1st in Smiles at 972-380-8105 to schedule an appointment with him. In the meantime, we’ve provided some information here that will be relevant to your decision.

Among the factors we’ll consider:

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

Root Canal or Extraction: What’s the Difference?

The biggest difference between a root canal and an extraction is what happens to your tooth. A root canal keeps your tooth structure intact, while an extraction completely removes it. Saving a tooth is almost always preferable, if it’s possible to do so. It helps keep your other teeth in place. Because your tooth root stimulates your jaw when you chew, your jaw stays healthy and strong. Without stimulation, the bone in your jaw will deteriorate over time.

During a root canal procedure, Dr. Barfield removes the damaged pulp from your tooth, thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting its interior to ensure no infection remains. Then he replaces the pulp with a rubbery material called gutta percha. The last step is sealing your tooth with a filling or dental crown to protect it from further damage.

To extract your tooth, Dr. Barfield loosens it with an instrument called an elevator then removes it with forceps. If our digital X-rays show complications, Dr. Barfield may arrange to have an oral surgeon come to our office and perform the extraction.

How Extensive Is Your Dental Damage?

When determining whether you need a root canal or extraction, we’ll evaluate 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 is so deep enough that it extends below your gumline, we’ll also probably suggest tooth removal.

If only the pulp is compromised, a root canal is often a better choice. Dr. Barfield will remove the pulp and bacteria that causes infection, but your outer tooth structure and its root are preserved.

When Looking at Time, Consider Recovery Too

A root canal typically takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the extent of damage to the tooth. In some cases, more than one appointment may even be necessary. Even a complicated extraction rarely takes more than an hour. So it certainly seems like an extraction is quicker.

Most people take longer to recover from an extraction, though. It’s common to experience some bleeding and swelling for up to 24 hours after a tooth removal. With a root canal, there’s no bleeding and little if any discomfort. The area may feel a bit tender, especially if you had an abscess. But unlike recovery from an extraction, you won’t need to modify your diet or oral hygiene routine in the days following a root canal procedure.

Root Canal or Extraction: Which Is More Costly?

On the face of it, root canal therapy is more expensive than an extraction. It will cost at least $1,000, which includes the cost of a dental restoration like a crown. The cost of an extraction, in contrast, shouldn’t be more than $500. But if you plan to replace a tooth after an extraction – and we definitely suggest you do – that will likely make the costs of the procedures quite similar or even make the root canal a less costly option.

Either Way, There’s No Need to Be Anxious

Whether you get a root canal or extraction, you may feel anxious. It’s understandable. We’ll numb you thoroughly with local anesthesia prior to either procedure so you won’t feel a thing. But if you’re still nervous, you can get dental sedation too. Unlike most general dentists, we offer a choice of three kinds: inhaled sedation (“laughing gas”), an oral sedative in the form of a pill, or intravenous (IV) sedation.

Whether you end getting a root canal or extraction, there’s a lot to consider. Call our Plano, TX dentist office at 972-380-8105 if you need more information or want to make an appointment.