questionswould you rather have a tooth extracted or a root…


For wisdom teeth, I guess, extraction. Is there dry socket pain with wisdom teeth?

For a front tooth, I'd keep it if I could.

I have zero expert knowledge here.


Extraction hands down. From my experience it seems that a root canal is just a big money-maker for dentists. YMMV.


I agree with @f00l - if it were a wisdom tooth I'd have it taken out in a heartbeat, but in the front I'd go with root canal, even though they are a real pain to have done. I've had 2 maybe 3 in my lifetime. I only had 3 wisdom teeth and had them removed in high school.


If you are able, it is (almost) always better to have a root canal than to have a tooth extracted (except for wisdom teeth and a handful of other situations). Once a non-wisdom tooth is extracted, the remaining teeth will begin to move and over time, your bite will become misaligned. This can be a big problem, especially as you get older and aspiration of food becomes more common.


Generally speaking, the root canal, absolutely. I had one done a year ago, and it really wasn't bad at all. I'd heard horror stories over the years, but honestly, with a bit of Novocain and nitrous gas, I was good to go, and the next day I didn't need anything stronger than a couple ibuprofen. There was very minimal discomfort, but I'd rather have a little discomfort than be missing a tooth or two!

For a wisdom tooth, though, I vote extraction. You don't need them, and many (most?) people have them taken out as teenagers or young adults anyway.


I had all my wisdom teeth pulled as a kid because my mouth isn't big enough and they were impacted. But.. on to root canals.
I've done some reading that indicates the gateway for disease to enter the body is through the mouth. For instance, with dogs or horses, as a general rule, if the teeth are bad, general bad health is expected.

A mouth has a lot of bacteria in it, which is perfectly fine. However, if the bacteria gets into the bloodstream and the rest of the body, it can cause problems. Some people argue that it's impossible to get all of the bacteria out of an infected tooth, so it's always best to pull it instead of do a root canal. Otherwise, it's just a harbor for bacteria to grow and spread to the rest of the body.

Experiments have been done where an infected tooth was extracted, put under the skin of a rat, and the rat developed the same disease the person had. People have had chronic arthritis disappear within weeks of pulling a root canal-ed tooth. Pull it!


I'm faced with this decision now.

About a year ago, my dentist replaced a deep filing in my very last tooth on the top left. It's a molar but not a wisdom tooth. At the time, he remarked about how deep the cavity was and that it may need a root canal in the future.

6 months later, at my regular cleaning, he asked if I was experiencing any sensitivity with that tooth. I said "once in a while, but nothing too bad." He told me some filings may take a year to fully settle in, and once again mentioned it might need a root canal.

Fast forward to now, and that tooth is EXTREMELY sensitive to cold and heat. I avoid eating anything cold on that side or letting hot liquids touch it. I have a cleaning in a couple months and I'm thinking I want the tooth pulled. I'm wondering why he never even mentioned extraction as an option, only the root canal. I would say $$$, but he's a great dentist and has done things for free for me and many patients. Over 50 Yelp reviews, all 5 stars.


[cont] I'm left wondering if there's a real medical reason he would rather do a root canal versus an extraction. I guess I will just have to ask him. I'm pretty sure he's not money motivated since he's the geekiest tooth nerd ever and is always booked. He actually gives me the white composite fillings but bills my insurance for the cheaper silver amalgam so I don't have to pay anything out of pocket, and when one of my new fillings cracked from sand in a clam, he fixed it for free, the whole time upset with himself and muttering about how he should have seen this coming and should have used this clamp versus that, etc.

I'm not worried about the "ordeal" of a root canal. I have weak enamel, am prone to cavities and have had 3 root canals in the past 15 years or so. (On the bright side, my weak/thin enamel = naturally bright white teeth.) Root canals aren't fun, but they're not the horror stories some make them out to be either. Expensive though!


Wisdom tooth extraction, otherwise root canal imho.
If you have a non-wisdom tooth pulled, you are going to then need a bridge or partial or implant. All of those are bigger bucks and can cause more pain. If you just leave the space, it will shift your teeth and your bite, which can cause all sorts of problems --
ie a shift in bite can misalign the jaw and lead to TMJD.
Plus it looks nicer to have something there !

Sounds like you have a nice dentist. If you trust the person's opinion, then talk to them about why they are recommending that procedure.


I've had both done, on the same tooth. It was my front right tooth.
I had an accident, where the bottom halves of my front teeth broke off. They did a root canal to try and save my front right tooth from dying. They later found out that the tooth had chipped, so they had to do an extraction.
It was my first root canal and first extraction. Given the choice, I would have just done the extraction and let it be over. Yes, it is more expensive, but I thought it was generally less painful and now my tooth looks great.


8 root canals, 1 extraction/implant. As others have stated, it depends on the tooth. For the issues of tooth migration (I just made that up), cosmetics & expense, I would lean toward a root canal.

Extractions of multi-root teeth with implant replacements can require bone grafts. This requires multiple surgeries, and it takes MONTHS for the graft and post to "take." Root canals take a couple of hours.

Implants are much more expensive (my insurance wouldn't cover the anesthesia for the bone graft, thank you very much). But, now I get to say I'm bionic.

I recommend getting referrals for oral surgeons - a good one can be invaluable. When faced with my second-to-last root canal, I went to my oral surgeon and asked if I should just get it removed, and she said no, go with the root canal. Yes, she basically turned down my money. If you're in Atlanta, I can give you her name.

Basically, pain is pain. It's gonna hurt no matter what. Think long term when you decide.


My root canal was painless and relatively quick. I went to a specialist for a couple hundred more, but I think it was worth it. In for a penny, in for a pound. Don't neglect to get the crown afterwards, or all that money was wasted. The only reason not to go root canal/crown is financial, which I understand. It was over 2K for one tooth. I still wish I hadn't let the dentist talk me out of a good crown. Sort of.


If a root canal is painful, your dentist is doing it wrong. You should insist on being given adequate Novocain so that you are sufficiently numb, unless their is some medical reason why you can't handle the drug. A little discomfort in the jaw/gum in the next 24 hours or so after the numbness wears off is normal, but if it's hurting so bad that ibuprofen or aleve isn't enough to help, something is probably wrong.


I have to agree with many others here. I've had wisdom teeth extracted, which is fairly inexpensive. I had one useful tooth that


I'm not sure why the rest of my post didn't come through.

It was supposed to say I had one useful tooth that I had a root canal done on. Yes, it was expensive but that tooth and the new crown are still there 20 years later. I'd much rather keep a tooth than buy an implant or wear a bridge.


@thewronggrape: I really can't see any particular reason to have a root canal and crown on that molar. I have crowns on mid-back teeth, partly because the crown helps keep the other teeth from migrating, but I think that way-back molars are pretty much expendable. It might even be worth getting a second opinion from another dentist.


@magic cave: That's what I'm wondering too. I haven't brought up the extraction yet. I'm curious to see what his response will be.


@thewronggrape @magic cave
If wisdom tooth, that's another story. But other back molars I would keep for same reasons as other teeth ( Can change your bite, etc.. ) Also on the off chance that a tooth next to it goes bad somewhere down the line and can't be saved, you have that saved molar to use as an anchor for a bridge.

ETA : If you do have a root canal. I highly advise a crown. Some dentists do automatically, some don't.
If you don't get a crown there is a high chance that the tooth will dry out and eventually break. There goes all that dental work.
I think personally, it is irresponsible to not recommend a crown. Not cheap. But easier on your wallet in the long run.


@ceagee: All the root canals I've had done were 25 or 30 years ago and involved great gaping holes in the tooth stuffed with something that tasted like creosote (think in terms of biting on an old fashioned telephone pole) and pretty much required a crown or cap at the end of the process. I didn't even know one could be done without a crown or cap.

Your comment about saving the molar as an anchoring tooth for future difficulties is something I hadn't considered.


Re: root canals and crowns: I had Root Canal #7 in tooth number 20. That's a one-root tooth, bottom left side. We did not crown it. After much discussion with my dentist - whom I trust - we decided a post would be sufficient. I realize it might have to be crowned one day, but so far so good. Knock on enamel.

So it varies. Again, ask lots of questions. And I very, very strongly recommend an endodontist for root canals, then your dentist for the crown.


@thewronggrape: From my experience - if the tooth is in between another and not the last one, your other teeth will shift. If you don't have the money you can get it extracted, but it will mess up your other teeth if you don't get a bridge.

I would also recommend never getting a porcelain crown. Many people say "Yeah but you look like lil' John." That is true and that's the trade off but if you ever need to have it removed, porcelain isn't worth anything. The gold you can sell for like $50.