Root canals can make many people with dental problems apprehensive because they falsely believe the procedure is abnormally painful. In some cases they may avoid a root canal and opt for an extraction. If you are on the fence about having a root canal, there are several factors that can affect your decision.
Unfortunately, even if you want a root canal, affordability can be a limiting factor. Many people without dental insurance do not have access to preventative or restorative dental care, so they may be limited to extractions. If you are going to pay out-of-pocket or via financing, a root canal could cost a thousand dollars or more.
Of course, the average cost for a root canal will vary based on your geographic location. Another consideration is the specific tooth that needs to be repaired. A root canal for the teeth in the front of your mouth are generally less expensive because they have a single canal. Molars tend to be more expensive because they have multiple canals, which requires more work to fix.
In contrast, an extraction is significantly less expensive, depending on how complex the extraction will be. For people without dental insurance, there may be free or low-cost resources available for extraction. A simple, uncomplicated extraction might be done for a hundred dollars if you have access to a discount dental clinic. More complex extractions, such as impacted teeth, will cost significantly more because you need an oral surgeon.
You might base your decision on which tooth needs the root canal. Wisdom teeth are often a nuisance and are not worth the time, effort, or cost to fix them, so they should be extracted. Teeth that affect the aesthetic of your smile should be preserved whenever possible. Of course, having a visible tooth extracted can make you feel uncomfortable about your smile.
Molars can be an issue of debate. When possible, you want to preserve your molars for various reasons. The main reason is to preserve your chewing surface. It is not ideal to predominately chew on one side. You may find a missing molar makes chewing uncomfortable on that side because crunchy food can poke or irritate the gums.
Another consideration is preserving the structure of your face and your jaw bone. Missing a single molar is unlikely to have any major impact, but if you keep having molars extracted, it will eventually cause a problem. Teeth help prevent your cheeks from becoming sunken in and changing the structure of your face.
Over time, the jaw bone will become less dense where teeth have been extracted. This can make future restorative procedures, such as implants, difficult or impossible since there is little bone to support the dental work. To have implants, an attempt a bone grafting will be necessary, which is not always successful.
Root canals are an excellent restorative dental procedure to preserve a tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted. Although you may want to preserve all your natural teeth, there may be some instances where a root canal is not the best option.