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A 36-year-old member asked:

when is it smarter to get a root canal or to get the tooth pulled instead?

6 doctor answers10 doctors weighed in
Dr. John Calvert
Dentistry 36 years experience
Non-restorable: If a tooth is decayed or damaged to the point that it is not restorable with a functional crown that has a high level prognosis for many years, then other options probably need to be looked at. If the tooth must be extracted, usually the best way of replacing the tooth would be with an implant. There are various criteria that must be met for this, but your dentist or specialist can advise you.
Dr. Arnold Malerman
Orthodontics 53 years experience
Again we get back to the concept that everyone's different. What works for your neighbor may not be right for you. Dr. Calvert is correct, discuss your unique situate with your Dentist for the best advice.
Feb 24, 2014
Dr. Nishan Odabashian
Endodontics 30 years experience
The operative word in in my response is "if". None of the dentists, specialists, experts on this panel (including me) can give a definitive answer to this question w/out examining the pt, radiographs, & taking each pt's needs, & wants first. However, 'IF' it is possible to save a tooth, then that is the best option. Important thing is to understand that it is a complex question.
Feb 24, 2014
Dr. Nishan Odabashian
Endodontics 30 years experience
Save 2th if possible: If the tooth is salvageable, that should take precedence over extraction. See multiple specialists to get different opinion. An microscope using endodontist, periodontist and your general dentist should be involved in the decision. I would do everything to save my tooth.
Dr. Nishan Odabashian
Endodontics 30 years experience
Provided original answer
The operative word in in my response is "if". None of the dentists, specialists, experts on this panel (including me) can give a definitive answer to this question w/out examining the pt, radiographs, & taking each pt's needs, & wants first. However, 'IF' it is possible to save a tooth, then that is the best option. Important thing is to understand that it is a complex question.
Feb 24, 2014
Dr. Sal Aragona
Dentistry 41 years experience
Depends: If you are relatively young (14-18) and you have a well formed third molar behind the second molar, sometimes it might be better to remove the second molar instead of saving it with root canal treatment.
Dr. Nishan Odabashian
Endodontics 30 years experience
Agreed; Age of the pt. & location of a tooth in question as well as its carious state are important. A 3rd molar can be transplanted into a socket of another molar if the 3rd molar is not fully developed. With the help of an orthodontist, a 3rd molar can be guided (moved) into the 2nd molar position. Also important to note, implants aren't placed into patient's jaws that are not fully developed!
Feb 24, 2014
Dr. Maryam Chiani
Dentistry 29 years experience
Saving teeth: It is always smart to save a tooth that is restorable and has a good long term prognosis even if you get a root canal treatment. Make sure you discuss all the options and ask for the long term prognosis of the tooth in question to make an informed decision.
Dr. Theodore Davantzis
Dentistry 40 years experience
The smartest: Thing to do is to discuss your options with your local, treating dentist. Which tooth is it? What condition are your other teeth in? What's your long term plan? If you extract the tooth, it should be replaced, which will cost even more. Treatment planning requires more than just posting a question... Please make an appointment with a local dentist.
Dr. Gary Sandler
Dentistry 54 years experience
RCT or EXT?: If the tooth can be salvaged with root canal therapy, restored and maintained for a long time, it would be better to save it with rct. If you will not properly take care of it, it is too far decayed, has severe bone loss and mobility or has a poor long term prognosis, it would be better to extract it. Your own dentist can properly evaluate it and guide you into making the right decision what to do.

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Dr. Reena Gupta
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