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Root Canal vs. Tooth Extraction

When it comes to dental procedures, two of the most common treatments are root canals and tooth extractions. While these procedures generally treat common teeth problems, they are pretty different regarding their purpose, process, and aftercare. Knowing the difference between these procedures can help you understand what suits you and your dental needs. Additionally, these key differences can help you prepare for your procedure and recovery.

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What is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure to treat an infected or damaged tooth. The process involves removing the damaged or infected pulp from the inside of the tooth. Then, the area will need cleaning and disinfecting to prevent further infection. Finally, the site will need filling and sealing of the tooth to prevent further damage. Your dentist will typically perform a root canal when there is a chance to save your tooth. Also, an infection or injury may not be severe enough to require extraction.

What is a Tooth Extraction?

A tooth extraction is a dental procedure that involves removing a tooth from its socket in the jawbone. Generally, your dentist may extract a tooth when it is too damaged or when there is no other option for treating the problem. The most common type of tooth extraction that your dentist will perform is on wisdom teeth. You may need wisdom tooth removal if they are causing pain, infection, or other issues. In fact, most adults will need wisdom tooth extraction because their jaws are not big enough to hold all their teeth. 

Key Differences between Root Canals and Tooth Extractions

The primary purpose of a root canal is to save a damaged or infected tooth. In contrast, the reason for tooth extraction is to remove a damaged or irreparable tooth. So while a root canal may sound scary, the goal is to save your tooth rather than remove it. 

Root canals involve removing the damaged or infected pulp from the inside of the tooth. For comparison, an extraction removes the entire tooth from its socket. Your dentist will typically perform a root canal under local anesthesia. A root canal may also require several appointments. However, tooth extractions may be performed under local or general anesthesia. Additionally, your dentist can remove a tooth in one appointment.

After a root canal, patients may experience discomfort or sensitivity in the treated tooth. However, they can usually return to normal activities within a few days. After tooth extraction, patients may experience some pain, swelling, or bleeding. In addition, you may need to avoid certain foods or activities for some time.

Which Procedure is Right for You?

The decision to undergo a root canal or a tooth extraction will depend on various factors. Your dentist will likely determine what is best depending on the severity of the problem and your overall dental health. If you are experiencing pain, it’s essential to consult with your dentist to determine the best course of action.

In general, dentists will try to save a damaged or infected tooth whenever possible. Preserving your natural tooth is usually the best option for tooth function. However, tooth extraction may be necessary if a tooth is too severely damaged or infected.

Sometimes, tooth extraction may need a dental implant or other tooth replacement option. Yet, a dental crown or other restoration may follow a root canal to strengthen and protect the treated tooth.