When the nerve of a tooth becomes irreversibly damaged or infected, you have two main options: root canal treatment or extraction. Both procedures prevent the spread of infection and pain, but they are quite different in how they go about it.
Root canal, or endodontic therapy, is a procedure that involves removing the diseased pulp from inside your tooth, cleaning and disinfecting it, then filling and sealing it. This helps to save the natural tooth structure while providing relief from any pain or discomfort caused by infection. The major advantage of a root canal is that it preserves the existing natural tooth and avoids extensive and costly restorative treatment (such as a bridge or implant) to replace it.
An extraction is just what it sounds like: the complete removal of a tooth and its periodontal attachment from its bony socket. While extraction effectively eliminates pain and infection, there are marked downsides to consider:
The first is that you will need to fill in the missing space in order to maintain proper alignment of your bite. Spaces left by extracted teeth can cause other teeth to shift, affecting your ability to properly chew and impacting your smile. The replacement of the missing tooth will require additional visits, possibly with multiple dental specialties, and potentially other dental procedures (bone grafts, sinus lifts, etc.).
Secondly, an extraction can be more costly than an endodontic procedure followed by a single tooth restoration. When presented with both options of Root Canal vs Extraction, more often than not, opting for a root canal will be less expensive and allow you to keep your tooth. Nothing looks, feels or functions like a natural tooth.
Finally, an extraction is a larger procedure and often is more uncomfortable than a root canal.
Ultimately, when presented with both options of Root Canal vs Extraction, more often than not, opting for a root canal will be less expensive and allow you to keep your original tooth intact rather than replacing it with a prosthetic device. And remember: Nothing looks, feels or functions like your natural tooth. Don't get a tooth pulled because you think it’s easier or more cost-effective. Tooth extraction often is more painful than the infection itself, and replacing an extracted tooth with an artificial one requires additional dental visits that can quickly add up.