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Tooth Abscess: Extraction Versus Root Canal Treatment

Woman Getting Dental Treatment
A tooth infection or an abscess can develop when decay or damage allows bacteria to enter the tooth's pulp. Many abscesses are extremely painful because they put a lot of pressure on the nerves and blood vessels in the tooth. While you may need antibiotics to help reduce the swelling and pain or fight the infection, extraction and root canal treatment are the only ways to actually treat an infected tooth.
If you believe you have an infection, check out these facts about extraction and root canal treatment.

Root Canal Treatment Saves the Tooth

Healthy teeth are alive, but infected teeth are usually considered dying or dead. In most cases, dead teeth need to be extracted to prevent complications, but a root canal treatment is an alternative that can save the tooth. During the procedure, the dentist removes the tooth's pulp, but instead of destroying the tooth further, this saves the tooth.
After treatment, your tooth may no longer feel heat or cold, which can be beneficial if you have sensitive teeth.
The tooth, however, is extremely weakened after root canal treatment because it is dead and contains a large filling. For this reason, your dentist will recommend that you get a dental crown, which gives the tooth a solid exterior. This helps the tooth evenly distribute pressure from chewing, which should prevent the tooth from breaking or cracking. Dental crowns usually come in metal or tooth-colored options.  

Extraction Is More Affordable 

The only other way to treat a tooth infection is extraction. This option is much more affordable than root canal treatment. On average, you'll spend about $75 to $300 for a simple extraction, but the price increases if the situation is an emergency or the tooth needs surgical removal.
Insurance, however, often covers most or all of the cost, although it may not cover the cost of an expensive tooth replacement option, such as an implant or dental bridge.
A root canal treatment, on the other hand, may cost up to $2,000, depending on the number of roots (incisors, premolars, molars). Plus, to prevent the tooth from shattering, you'll need to pay an additional $500 to $3,000 for a crown, depending on the material. Most insurance covers some of the cost of a root canal treatment, and many also cover some of the cost of dental crowns, depending on the location and the material used.

Teeth May Need Re-Treatment 

In some cases, you may need to have a tooth re-treated after a root canal treatment because the infection has returned. This is common if some of the tooth's pulp or infection was missed during the first treatment. Some teeth may immediately become swollen, painful, and infected again, while others may not become infected again for months or years. With re-treatment, the dentist usually performs the same procedure, ensuring that nothing is missed.
Some teeth, however, aren't good candidates for re-treatment. For example, if a tooth continues to get infected and your dentist can't determine the cause, the tooth may have underlying damage, such as small cracks in its roots. These may be too hard to see on an X-ray, but they can allow bacteria to continue collecting. In this situation, an extraction is likely necessary to ultimately treat the infection.
Root canal treatment is expensive, but it saves the tooth, so you won't need to get an implant, dental bridge, or partial denture to complete your smile. However, while a root canal procedure has a high success rate, the tooth may ultimately need to be removed because of complications. For more information about infections, extraction, and root canal treatment, contact us at Eaton Dental today.