Emergency Extraction or Save the Tooth?
One of the most common questions we get from patients who have a toothache is "Can I Save My Tooth?" It's an understandable question and one that makes perfect sense at the emergency dentist: your tooth hurts. It's the weekend. You don't like seeing the dentist. And now you may be faced with a tooth extraction.
So what's the answer? As always: "It Depends."
At an emergency dental clinic like ours, we see a lot of teeth that are well-beyond saving. They have major decay, are broken in half, infected, or worse. Those teeth typically can not be "saved", nor would you want to save them (who wants an old, rotted, infected tooth in their mouth?).
If you just have a small cavity -- the kind that can be easily filled -- it probably won't hurt enough to go see the emergency dentist, so emergency dental clinics don't typically see a lot of easily-restorable teeth.
But what if you have a large cavity? The kind that gives you an excruciating toothache but could be cured with a root canal OR an extraction? How do you know if you can save it? And is it worth saving?
If you find yourself at the emergency dentist on the weekend and are faced with that question, you have a few things to think about.
At our practice in San Diego, we do not do full root canals -- only pulpotomies, which are mini root canals in a way. A pulpotomy is the removal of the nerve in your tooth. This will help you get out of pain. A full root canal is the removal of the nerve, cleaning of the canals, filling the canals, and normally crowning the tooth. It's a long term solution to the problem and in San Diego I can typically cost you about $2,000 from start to finish. We charge $199 for a pulpotomy, to put it into perspective (but a pulpotomy is a SHORT term solution and requires that you still get a full root canal as soon as you can get an appointment with your endodontist).
An extraction, on the other hand, is definitive treatment on the spot. Once the tooth is extracted, you will be out of pain. And typically no further care is needed. In most cases, you will want to eventually replace the tooth, but it normally is not necessary (most people don't want to walk around without a front tooth, for example, but you would survive without it).
At On Demand Dentist in San Diego we charge $199 for a pulpotomy and we charge $199 for an extraction. We try to take price out of the equation so you can make the best decision for you. That being said, almost 85% of our patients opt for an extraction since it is definitive (does not require further treatment) and provides a permanent solution to the pain.
So what would you choose if given the choice? Root canal or extraction?