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Root Canals & Extractions

Sometimes, when a tooth has a cavity or a crack, the damage can be extensive. In certain instances, the damage to the tooth can extend into the nerve, or pulp, of the tooth. Pain can be a result of damage into the pulp, though not always. What is certain is that when nerve damage is done, a simple filling in the tooth will no longer fix the problem.To fix the damage, 2 options are available.

Root Canals

Everyone has heard horror stories about root canal procedures but the fact is that having the root canal done is rarely painful. Time in the dental office is the most frequent complaint—with time ranges from 30 minutes to 2 hours—depending on the tooth. To do a root canal, the dentist deadens the inflamed nerve and uses special tools to remove the deadened nerve or nerves from the tooth. A rubber filling material is then placed down the root, where the nerve and blood vessels were recently removed and cleaned. The rubber material seals the root and keeps infection from abscessing the tooth. The end result is that the tooth stays in its original position and pain causing infection is kept out. The tooth can then be restored to its original shape with a cap that covers the tooth to keep future breaks away.


To describe it more simply—the whole tooth and root is pulled. As in a root canal, the tooth and gums are deadened and the dentist, using a variety of forceps and levers, removes the tooth. Once again, pain is rarely a problem after the tooth is properly deadened and the time in the chair averages 1 hour, including wait times for the tooth to deaden. As described, the tooth extraction is much less expensive than doing a root canal. However, the downside is the space created by a missing tooth. Even if it is a back space, shifting of remaining teeth can cause problems in the future. When all factors are considered, saving a tooth via a root canal or having it extracted and replaced are often similar in costs.

The previous paragraphs have attempted to give some insight into the basic differences between saving a damaged tooth with a root canal and extraction. Dr. Rotter and her staff can help explain the differences in detail and can aid in deciding which option would be best in each case. Many factors play a part in which option to choose and always discuss those factors with your dentist before deciding.