When you go to the dentist with pain and an infected tooth, your dentist may just prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection. But if it's a particularly bad infection, or if you've had repeated infections, you may be given a choice: have a root canal, or have the tooth extracted. This is an important decision that can really affect the health of your mouth, so you need to choose wisely. In most cases, a root canal is the better decision, though in rare cases, an extraction may be necessary. Here are a few facts that might surprise you, and that can help you make a decision.

Root Canals Are Cheaper

It's no secret that dental procedures are expensive, so you may be tempted to choose the extraction, thinking that it will be cheaper. This is a common belief, but it doesn't take into account that you're going to have to replace that extracted tooth somehow. If you don't, you will end up with more tooth problems in the long run, as your teeth shift around the empty space.

A root canal should cost somewhere between $500 and $1,000, and if you have dental insurance, it will usually cover all or part of the procedure. A dental implant, the most permanent type of tooth replacement, costs an average of $4,250, and is often not covered by dental insurance. Other forms of tooth replacement, like bridges, may be cheaper up front, but cost more over a lifetime as they occasionally need to be repaired or replaced. In the long run, paying for the root canal and keeping your natural tooth is cheaper.

Root Canals are Faster

Root canals are faster than extractions for the same reason that they are cheaper than extractions – because of the need for a replacement for the tooth that you're missing. A root canal may take two visits to the dentist, but an extraction will usually require at least three – one for the extraction itself, and at least two to put a replacement tooth in place and do a follow up. If you're worried about finding time in your busy schedule to deal with a root canal or extraction, choosing the root canal will eat up less of your time.

Root Canals Aren't As Painful As You Think

The truth is, it's your infected tooth that is causing you pain. Both a root canal and an extraction will remove the infected nerve, eliminating your tooth pain. In either case, you'll feel sore while you're recovering, but nothing like the intense pain caused by an infected nerve.

However, if you're worried about the pain of the procedure, you should know that modern anesthetics have rendered the root canal virtually painless. You'll feel about the same level of discomfort you feel having a cavity filled.  In the aftermath of the procedure, after the anesthesia has worn off, you're likely to experience more pain from an extraction than a root canal, because of the trauma to your gums from having a tooth pulled out.

These are just some of the reasons why root canals are usually the superior choice. If your dentist gives you the option, you should seriously consider all the advantages that a root canal procedure has over an extraction before making your choice. Contact a local dentist like Baker Allan DDS for more information.