Just the mention of the word root canal is enough to make most people apprehensive because they are under the mistaken belief that the procedure involves extreme pain. In some cases, they are willing to opt for extraction rather than go through a root canal.
If you need to choose whether or not to have a root canal, keep the following 2 factors in mind before deciding:
1. The Cost
For those who don’t have dental insurance, the cost of a root canal may be a limiting factor and perhaps the only factor to take into account. A root canal can cost from $1,000 upwards. Those who cannot afford this or don’t want to go to the expense may be limited to having an extraction which is less costly. However, you could finance the cost of the procedure.
The cost can be affected by your location – root canals are less costly in some areas than others. The specific tooth requiring the procedure can also contribute to the expense. Front teeth have a single canal and are therefore less costly to restore. Molars, the teeth located at the back of the mouth, have multiple canals and the procedure will therefore be more expensive.
Extractions are significantly less expensive than root canal treatments. This does however depend on how complicated the extraction is. If you don’t have dental insurance, there are resources that provide free or low-cost extractions. If you are eligible to visit a discount dental clinic, you may pay as little as $100 for an extraction. Complex extractions that need to be performed by a dental surgeon are going to be far more costly.
2. The Tooth Location
You may want to take into consideration the specific tooth that requires a root canal treatment. Wisdom teeth are not essential and a nuisance and it is often best to have them extracted rather than repaired. A tooth that may affect your appearance should however be saved if at all possible. If extracting a tooth makes you feel self-conscious about smiling or talking, it is best to opt to have it restored rather than extracted.
The option to extract a molar is open to debate. If possible, you want to keep molars as these are the teeth that you use to chew your food. If extraction is going to affect your ability to chew or result in chewing only on one side of the mouth, a root canal is advisable.
A very important consideration is the preservation of the jaw bone as well as the structure of your face. Having just one molar extracted may not have a huge impact. However, multiple extractions can result in sunken cheeks and your face appearing drawn.
It is also critical to note that extractions can result in the deterioration of the jaw bone. The tooth provides blood circulation to the bone and without it, the jaw bone will become less dense over time in the area where the tooth was extracted. This can affect your eligibility for future restorative dentistry procedures such as implants and you may require bone grafts before having this type of procedure performed.
A root canal is the preferred option in many cases to save a tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted. However, while preservation of your natural teeth is always the preference, it is not always the best option available.