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Root Canals vs. Extractions

Root Canals vs. Extractions for Treating Tooth Infections

An infection in a tooth presents a dental patient with two main options: endodontic therapy (commonly known as a root canal) and extraction of the tooth. A root canal is an operation that involves drilling into the tooth to remove the infection and protect against future infection, while an extraction simply removes the tooth. Each patient must confer with his or her dentist to determine the best course of action based on several factors.

Cost
The cost of a typical root canal varies wildly, based on which tooth is affected and who performs the work. A root canal on a front tooth will typically cost between $700 and $1,000, with molar root canals often costing between $1,000 and $1,300. (This does not include the restorative work that follows the procedure - your dental professional will have to add a crown to the tooth for protection. The crown and core buildup will typically cost an additional $1,200-$1,400.) Comparatively, an extraction tends to cost much less, in the range of $150-$500. Also, of course, these costs tend to increase if the work is done by an endodontist or oral surgeon, rather than a general dentist.

The Procedure Itself
For a root canal, your dentist will drill a small hole into the tooth for access to the infection. He or she will remove the infection, then go to work preventing future infections. They may seal the tooth with paste or inject medication into the area to fight infection. Many root canals are finished within a day, but some require follow-up visits to completely clear the infection. An extraction, of course, involves complete removal of the tooth and any affected areas around it. He or she will extract the tooth, then cut away any areas of gum and/or bone that have succumbed to the infection. Root canal recovery tends to be much quicker and easier than that from an extraction. A root canal patient will likely subside within the day, while the area from which an extraction took place typically requires stitching, bleeding control, and pain management for a few days.

Restoring the Area
Following your root cabal, your dentist will almost certainly place a crown over the tooth. This is done for several reasons: protection, restoration to full and proper use, and aesthetics. Typically, a root canal effectively repairs the affected tooth on a permanent basis. An extraction, on the other hand, often requires some form of implant to close the gap created by the missing tooth. Bridges are commonly used here, or your dentist may have an implant or partial denture created and fitted into the gap. This not only closes the gap, but also has structural function - it keeps the teeth tight and aligned, preventing them from shifting. 04

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