Deciding between a root canal vs. extraction can be difficult— especially when you’re hurting. 

    But don’t let dental anxiety stop you from having a much-needed procedure. You’re likely considering these services because you’re experiencing:

    • Tooth decay
    • Nerve damage
    • Periodontal (gum) disease

    You might think the easiest, fastest, and least expensive option is to pull your infected and painful tooth instead of having a root canal. However, root canal treatments today are pretty different from those done years ago. With modern technology, a root canal takes less time, is usually painless, and is much easier.

    So, what can you do to make your decision easier? Outline the pros and cons, of course!


    What is a Root Canal?

    Your enamel is the hard, outer surface of your teeth. Beneath the enamel, in the center of each tooth, is a soft tissue known as the dental pulp. A root canal is performed by dentists to eliminate bacteria that reach your dental pulp. 

    Your pulp is composed of blood vessels and nerve tissue. When this tissue becomes inflamed, a tooth requires either a root canal treatment or extraction.  A  root canal  removes bacteria from the dental pulp while preserving the tooth. An extraction accomplishes the same goal of clearing the infected pulp but at the sacrifice of the entire tooth.

    25 million root canals are performed every year. One of the biggest reasons people decide to get a root canal procedure over a tooth extraction is because it preserves your original tooth

    Read more about root canal procedures here. 

    What’s a Tooth Extraction?

    Your dentist can restore and save the most extensively decayed or infected tooth with a dental restoration and a root canal treatment. 

    However, the damage to some teeth is so severe that the best treatment option is to remove the tooth. This procedure is called a dental extraction. Usually, your dentist replaces the tooth with a dental bridge , implant , or denture. 

    The reasons you might need to consider a tooth extraction include:

    • A severely fractured tooth.
    • Excessive tooth decay that leaves insufficient tooth structure to support a dental restoration.
    • A badly infected tooth that threatens your overall health.
    • Advanced periodontal disease that destroys the bone supporting a tooth.

    Read more about the tooth extraction procedure here.

    In most cases, your dentist will likely recommend root canal treatment over a tooth extraction to save your tooth. While some people choose an extraction when comparing the initial root canal vs. extraction cost, this may be a mistake (more on that in a minute).

    There are only a few instances where your dentist will prescribe a tooth extraction vs. a root canal. These reasons include having impacted, overcrowded, or severely decayed teeth. 

    If your dentist does not give you the option to have a root canal, it’s because your tooth’s pulp is far too damaged. When this happens, you will start experiencing tooth decay and, eventually, tooth loss.

    Ignoring the need for tooth extraction can lead to a host of new medical problems.

    Pros of Root Canals

    • Keeping your natural tooth
    • Retaining your natural chewing ability
    • A virtually painless procedure
    • Less chance of postoperative complications such as bleeding
    • Allows you to maintain regular brushing and flossing of a natural tooth
    • 30-60 minute procedure
    • Partially covered under insurance

    Cons of Root Canals

    • Requires additional services such as a crown
    • May require multiple appointments
    • More expensive than tooth pulling

    Pros of Tooth Extractions

    • 5-45 minute procedure
    • Starts at $75 for a simple tooth extraction cost (depending on your location)
    • Partially covered under insurance

    Cons of Tooth Extractions

    • Typically requires additional services such as a crown or bridge.
    • Aesthetic compromises (you may have a missing tooth for some time)
    • Risk of dry socket or infection
    • Replacing an extracted tooth with a dental bridge requires dental devices such as floss threaders to remove plaque


    Cost of a Root Canal vs. a Tooth Extraction

    Root canals alone can cost anywhere between $700-$1,500. A single tooth extraction can be $75-$200 for a simple tooth-pulling that doesn’t require surgical extraction (e.g. impacted or wisdom tooth removal ).

    Look at the breakdown of tooth extraction costs here .

    The initial cost of extraction is significantly less than a root canal treatment. This is especially true when you add the price of a dental crown that is often needed after a root canal, which can cost $300 or more per tooth.

    However, there are several long-term factors to consider before you make a final decision, such as:

    • The cost to replace a missing tooth
    • The cost of procedures needed after an extraction such as gum surgery, implant placement , or restorations of other natural teeth.
    • The potential for future tooth decay and dental treatment that might increase when you replace a natural tooth with an artificial one.

    Here’s how much it costs to go to the dentist without insurance. 


    When it comes to whether you should get a root canal or extracted, your dentist will have the final recommendation. While having your tooth pulled might be more cost-effective, a root canal will preserve your tooth and eliminate the need for extra services (crowns, bridges, etc).

    On the other hand, you will have no option other than tooth extraction if your tooth’s nerve is damaged beyond repair. Likewise, a root canal cannot fix a tooth that is already chipped , cracked, or decaying. If both your tooth and your nerve are damaged, an extraction is your best bet.

    Do you still need a professional opinion? Schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Lasry . If you’re in Los Angeles, California, give us a call at 310-734-7705.

    Which is painful root canal or tooth extraction?
    The Root Canal Procedure Root canals can be a painful procedure. In fact, many find it to be more painful than an extraction, but the use of local anesthesia can reduce the pain. more
    Is there pain after root canal?
    Some Minor Pain Is Normal After Root Canal Treatment This is normal and a relatively common issue. Soon, the discomfort will go away, but until then, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. more
    Whats worse root canal or tooth extraction?
    Risks of a tooth extraction are more serious than those that come with root canal therapy. They include: The bone that once supported the tooth will begin to lose its volume and mass. Adjacent teeth may drift out of place, leading to a misaligned bite. more
    Can root canal tooth be removed?
    Removal of a root canal tooth is a lot more difficult than removal of a regular tooth. The best strategy is to remove the tooth by taking out the roots one at a time. Once the roots are removed, the dentist can evaluate the root canal extraction site for bone damage, cysts and bacterial and fungal infection. more
    Does tooth pain mean root canal?
    Strong pain does not always mean that the patient needs a root canal treatment. In some cases, the tooth which requires the surgery, may not even hurt. When pain is present, however, this can indicate a necessity for a root canal. more
    Will a root canal tooth fall out?
    Root canals are put forth as a way to save failing teeth. However: Root canals often fail, which requires the same painful and expensive procedure to be done on the same tooth over and over. Each root canal and post placement further weakens the tooth, meaning eventual extraction is likely. more
    What is more painful root canal or tooth extraction?
    In addition, healing from an extraction takes longer and is often more painful than healing from a root canal, and pulling the tooth means even more dental procedures and healing time to replace it later. more
    How long is pain after root canal?
    A successful root canal can cause mild pain for a few days. This is temporary, and should go away on its own as long as you practice good oral hygiene. You should see your dentist for a follow-up if the pain lasts longer than three days. more
    What causes pain after root canal?
    There are a couple of reasons this may happen. First, though the nerve-filled “pulp” is removed from your tooth, there are still other nerves and sensitive tissues near the canal of your tooth, and these can be irritated and become swollen or inflamed after your endodontic treatment, causing some minor discomfort. more
    Does vanilla extract help with tooth pain?
    Vanilla extract can offer temporary relief of tooth pain, but it lasts for minutes and requires frequent reapplication. more
    What is root canal pain like?
    If you feel pain in your tooth while you're drinking or eating something hot or cold you might need a root canal. The sensitivity can manifest itself as a sharp pain or a dull ache, and if you can feel it for a longer period of time, even after you finish drinking or earing. more


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