Root Canal vs. Extraction: Which Is Better?


A toothache is never an ailment to ignore. Left untreated, a simple toothache can create a much larger issue that calls for a more serious procedure like a tooth extraction or a root canal.

But if any of your teeth do require one of these procedures, it’s a good idea to know the differences between the two. Knowing what each procedure involves can also help calm your nerves.

So with the question of a root canal vs extraction, which one is the better procedure for you? Let’s break down the differences.

Why You Need the Procedure

Both root canals and tooth extractions are procedures to treat severe toothaches. These toothaches are usually caused by tooth pulp that’s damaged or infected.

Because of the damage or infection, the tooth’s inner nerves send pain signals that result in a toothache. Damaged or infected tooth pulp needs to be removed to maintain oral health. The removal comes in the form of a root canal or tooth extraction.

What Is a Root Canal?

During a root canal, a hole is drilled into the affected tooth down to the pulp. The dentist will then remove any infected pulp or dead tissue. They’ll clean the teeth with antiseptic and antibacterial solutions. The procedure finishes with a root canal filling to protect the hole.

What Is a Tooth Extraction?

Dental extractions involve removing the infected or damaged tooth completely. The dentist will administer local anesthesia so you won’t feel pain while they remove the tooth. The dentist will then close the empty tooth socket to prevent further infection.

Factors of Each Procedure

There are factors associated with tooth extraction and a root canal procedure that may make one a better option for you than the other.


For both procedures, the final cost is determined by the severity of the decay and how many teeth need to be treated. A root canal, on average, costs between $700 to $2,500. A tooth extraction ranges from $50 to $350.

Though cost is a large factor, it often shouldn’t be the deciding factor. If your dentist recommends one or the other, it’s best to heed their advice.

Risks and Side Effects

During an improperly-done root canal, you can sustain damage to your enamel. If there is infected material left behind, you may develop an abscess or have the infection spread further.

With an experienced dentist, root canal treatment side effects should not be severe or serious. Most commonly, you’ll experience pain.

However, a tooth extraction carries a higher risk of infection than a root canal. The empty socket is an easy place for bacteria to grow and cause infection. One common side effect is neighboring teeth losing their support, potentially causing them to shift and misalign over time.

Root Canal vs Extraction: Finding the Right Procedure for You

Many people avoid going to the dentist because they don’t want to deal with the possibility of needing a serious dental procedure. However, waiting too long between dental visits can lead to a simple toothache becoming a bigger issue.

If you leave your toothache untreated, you may need a root canal or tooth extraction as a treatment. But understanding all the factors in the case of a root canal vs extraction can help reduce the anxiety that comes along with these procedures.

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