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Dental Treatment Expenses: Root Canal vs. Extraction Costs Compared

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The pain of a toothache is often second only to the sting of the treatment bill. Patients facing severe dental issues are commonly presented with two options: a root canal or tooth extraction.

Each option has its own set of financial implications, making the decision a significant one not just for oral health but also for personal finances.

The key question at the heart of this dilemma is: “Which treatment — root canal or extraction — will best address my dental issues without draining my wallet?”

This post explores the root canal vs extraction cost debate, helping you to determine the best cause of treatment by highlighting:

  • Similarities between root canal and extraction;
  • A closer overview of root canal treatment;
  • A closer overview of dental extraction;
  • Deciding between the two dental treatments.

Why You Might Need Root Canal or Extraction Treatment

Dental treatments like root canals and extractions are not elective; they are necessitated by specific dental health issues that, if left untreated, can lead to more serious complications. Here are instances when each treatment may become an option:

Severe Tooth Decay
Severe Tooth Decay

When decay penetrates deep into the tooth, it can reach the pulp and cause infection. At this stage, a root canal may be performed to remove the infected tissue and save the tooth.

However, if the decay has compromised the tooth’s structure beyond repair, extraction may be the only solution.


A traumatic injury to a tooth can result in cracks or fractures that extend to the pulp. If the damage is contained, a root canal can restore the tooth. Conversely, if the tooth is too fractured, it may need to be removed.


Periodontal (gum) disease can lead to the loosening of teeth. In the early stages, treatment may focus on saving the tooth, including a root canal, if the pulp is affected. Advanced periodontal disease might leave extraction as the only viable option.

Repeated Dental Procedures
Repeated Dental Procedures

Teeth that have undergone multiple dental treatments may develop new or persistent infections, leading to the need for a root canal. If these treatments fail to resolve the issue, or if the tooth is structurally unsound, extraction might be recommended.

Both treatments aim to alleviate pain and prevent the spread of infection. The choice between them often depends on the extent of the damage and the potential for tooth preservation.

Financial considerations also play a crucial role, as the costs can vary significantly between the two options.

Let’s now take a closer look into each of these treatments:

Understanding Root Canal Treatment

A root canal, also known as endodontic therapy, is a dental procedure designed to eliminate bacteria from the infected root canal, prevent reinfection of the tooth, and save the natural tooth.

The pulp, located in the center of the tooth and extending into the tooth roots, contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. When the pulp becomes infected or inflamed, whereby you may have swollen gum around a tooth, it can lead to severe pain, swelling, and abscess formation if left untreated.

This is why a root canal treatment aims to remove the infected or damaged pulp, clean and disinfect the root canal system, and seal it to prevent further infection.

Indications for a Root Canal

Steps Involved in the Procedure

Root canal treatment can only be offered at the dentist’s office and involves several steps, including:

  • Diagnosis: The dentist examines the tooth and may perform X-rays to assess the extent of damage and determine if root canal treatment is necessary.
  • Anesthesia: Local anesthesia is administered to numb the affected tooth and surrounding area, ensuring a pain-free procedure.
  • Access: The dentist creates an opening in the crown of the tooth to access the pulp chamber and root canals.
  • Cleaning and Shaping: Specialized instruments are used to remove the infected or damaged pulp tissue and clean the root canals thoroughly.
  • Disinfection: The root canals are irrigated with antibacterial solutions to eliminate any remaining bacteria and disinfect the area.
  • Filling: The cleaned and disinfected root canals are filled with a biocompatible material, such as gutta-percha, to seal them and prevent recontamination.
  • Restoration: A temporary or permanent filling is placed in the access opening to temporarily seal the tooth. In some cases, a dental crown may be recommended to restore the tooth’s strength and appearance.

Understanding Tooth Extraction

Tooth extraction, also known as tooth removal, is a dental procedure performed to remove a tooth from its socket in the jawbone.

While extraction is typically considered a last resort when other treatments are not feasible or effective, there are situations where it may be the most appropriate course of action to alleviate pain, prevent further damage, or restore oral health.

Instances Necessitating Tooth Extraction

Here are the main instances where tooth extraction may be deemed necessary:

  • When a tooth is extensively decayed or damaged and cannot be effectively restored with fillings, crowns, or other treatments, extraction may be necessary to prevent further damage to surrounding teeth and tissues.
  • Periodontal disease that has progressed to an advanced stage can cause irreversible damage to the supporting structures of the tooth, including the gums and bone. In severe cases where the tooth is no longer stable or viable, extraction may be required to preserve overall oral health.
  • Wisdom teeth may become impacted or unable to erupt properly due to lack of space or misalignment. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain, swelling, and potential damage to adjacent teeth, necessitating extraction to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications.
  • Tooth extraction may be recommended as part of orthodontic treatment to create space for proper alignment of the remaining teeth. Extracting one or more teeth can facilitate orthodontic correction and improve overall bite alignment.

Steps Involved in the Procedure

  1. Examination: The dentist or oral surgeon evaluates the tooth and surrounding structures using X-rays and clinical examination to assess the extent of damage and plan the extraction procedure.
  2. Anesthesia: Local anesthesia is typically administered to numb the affected tooth and surrounding tissues, ensuring a pain-free extraction experience.
  3. Extraction: The dentist uses specialized instruments to loosen the tooth from its socket and gently remove it from the jawbone.
  4. Closure: After the tooth is removed, the extraction site may be closed with stitches or packed with gauze to promote healing and minimize bleeding.

Comparing Root Canal vs. Extraction Costs

When faced with the decision between a root canal and a tooth extraction, understanding the cost implications is crucial. Here’s a comparison of the two procedures:

Root Canal Cost

The average cost of a root canal procedure typically ranges from $300 to $2,000 per tooth. This cost includes the examination, anesthesia, root canal therapy, and filling materials.

Factors Influencing the Cost of a Root Canal

The cost of root canal treatment may vary, depending on various factors, including:

  • The location of the affected tooth, such as whether it is a front tooth or a molar, can impact the complexity of the procedure and, consequently, the cost.
  • The severity of the infection or damage within the tooth’s pulp can affect the time and effort required to perform the root canal.
  • The cost of the procedure may be influenced by the experience, location, and expertise of the dentist performing it, as more experienced dentists may charge higher fees for their services.
  • If additional treatments, such as dental crowns or retreatment of the root canal, are necessary to fully restore the tooth’s function and appearance, they can contribute to the overall cost.

Extraction Cost

The average cost of tooth extraction falls between $75 and $300 for a simple extraction and $150 to $650 for a surgical extraction. These costs typically include the examination, anesthesia, extraction procedure, and post-extraction care.

In the long run, extraction may be expensive as you may have to consider using implants to replace the missing tooth. Fortunately, you can also consider other alternatives to dental implants that may be more affordable.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Tooth Extraction

The cost of tooth extraction may vary depending on numerous factors, including:

  • The complexity of the extraction, including factors such as the location of the tooth, its position within the jawbone, and the presence of multiple roots, can influence the difficulty and cost of the procedure.
  • The experience and expertise of the dentist or oral surgeon performing the extraction can impact the cost.
  • Additional treatments such as bone grafting, socket preservation, or dental implant placement may be recommended following tooth extraction, contributing to the overall cost.
  • Costs can vary based on the geographic location of the dental practice.

According to the responses on this Quora forum discussing the question ‘What is usually cheaper between a root canal and extraction?’ the majority of people pointed out that while extraction is cheaper in the short run, it is often more expensive.

A user, Jay Valenci, writes:

“In the short run the extraction is cheaper. A root canal may cost roughly $1000 and a simple extraction about $200.

One thing to consider however is it's always cheaper to save an existing tooth than to replace a missing one. A root canal and crown may cost $2000-$2500. An implant to replace a missing tooth may cost nearly double that.”

Josh Day, DDS, an associate dentist, notes the following:

Screenshot of a forum question regarding root canal vs extraction costs comparison that says: Josh Day DDS in Dentistry, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities (Graduated 2010)Author has 88 answers and 163.6K answer views3y The answer to this question depends upon how short or long-term you want to evaluate. Immediate short-term: Removing a tooth is cheaper than root canal therapy simply by comparison of the two procedures head-to-head. It is a simpler, less-technically involved procedure by itself. Long-term: there can be a number of repercussions to removing a tooth. a) movement of adjacent teeth b) movement of opposing teeth c) loss of bone width at the site of extraction I tend to approach and discuss these situations with patients within a 10–15 year time window. how good is the prognosis of this tooth? How long will this treatment likely last or what would it take to get a good outcome? What do we do after the tooth is gone? Is it more than one tooth? Does it need to be replaced to prevent other complications? Oftentimes removing a tooth leads to other problems that will need to be addressed that can prove more costly later. Hope this helps, Joshua Day DDS

Deciding Between a Root Canal and Extraction

Choosing between a root canal and an extraction is a decision that should not be taken lightly. It involves considering both the immediate and long-term effects on one’s oral health, as well as root canal vs extraction cost.

So, is it cheaper to pull a tooth or root canal? Here’s what to consider:

Consider the condition of the tooth
Consider the condition of the tooth

If the tooth’s structure is intact and the damage is confined to the pulp, a root canal may be the preferred option.

However, if the tooth is extensively decayed, fractured beyond repair, or compromised by advanced gum disease, extraction may be necessary to prevent further damage and restore oral health.

Evaluate long-term outcomes
Evaluate long-term outcomes

Root canal treatment offers the advantage of preserving the natural tooth, which can maintain proper chewing function, prevent adjacent teeth from shifting, and preserve jawbone density.

While extraction may provide immediate relief from pain or infection, it requires tooth replacement options such as dental implants, bridges, or dentures to restore functionality and aesthetics.

Assess financial considerations
Assess financial considerations

Although root canal treatment may have a higher initial cost compared to extraction, it can be more cost-effective in the long run by avoiding the need for tooth replacement and preserving oral health.

On the other hand, extraction may seem more affordable upfront. Still, the cost of tooth replacement options, such as dental implants, and potential complications associated with tooth loss should be considered when evaluating long-term expenses.

In this short video from Dr. Joy Dental Clinic, Dr. Marjan explains the key differences between root canal and extraction while advising on how to choose the right approach. The video teaches that to choose the best option; one has to consider the severity of the condition and the patient’s preferences, among other key factors.

Bottom Line

While the costs and financial implications of dental treatments such as root canal therapy and tooth extraction are undoubtedly crucial considerations, they should not be the sole determinants of the treatment you receive.

Ultimately, the choice between a root canal and extraction should be guided by factors such as the condition of the tooth, long-term outcomes, and general recommendations from your dentist.


What is the success rate of a root canal vs a tooth extraction?

Root canals have a high success rate and often last a lifetime. Extractions permanently remove the tooth, which can be the best option in certain cases.

Will my insurance cover the full cost of a root canal or extraction?

Dental insurance coverage varies depending on your insurance plan and the specifics of your dental condition. It's essential to check with your insurance provider to understand your coverage and any out-of-pocket expenses.

Can I delay or postpone treatment due to financial concerns?

While it's understandable to have financial concerns about dental treatment, delaying or postponing necessary treatment can lead to worsening dental problems and potentially higher costs in the long run. Your dentist may offer payment plans or financing options to help make treatment more affordable.

What should I do if I'm unsure about which treatment option to choose?

If you're unsure about whether to undergo root canal treatment or extraction, it's essential to consult with your dentist. Your dentist can evaluate your dental condition, discuss your treatment options, and provide personalized recommendations based on your individual needs and preferences.


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