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Should I extract this tooth or have a root canal?



Sep 26, 2016
I am trying to make a decision on one of my molars. Over the past 20+ years I have had many teeth pulled and many root canals. Here is a list of what I've had done:

Root canals: Teeth #'s 12, 13, 14, 20
Extractions: Teeth #'s 3, 4, 19, 18, 15

Now I'm having an issue with tooth # 30. It has a large, deep filling that was filled over 20+years ago and also has a large cavity on the back of the tooth. It's very sensitive to hot, cold, and sweets. It also has started to ache off and on and seems to be getting worst. It's also cracked.

My husband just got laid off so we have lost our medical/dental benefits. We can apply for COBRA but that would cost $1500 a month so if we can wait until he begins his new job (April) that would be best. However, I'm not sure this molar is going to wait that long.

Here is my question. Originally, I was planning to have my endodontist evaluate the tooth and determine if it needs a root canal (which most likely it will). But, now I'm wondering if just having the tooth extracted would make more sense. There are no teeth above that molar so it's not being used for chewing. I realize it's good to keep because it is holding the space between teeth but I'm not sure it's worth all of the money for a root canal and crown. ($3500+)

My plan is to look into having a partial denture made for the short term until 5-10 years from now I can entertain having implants done.

I would appreciate hearing from a dentist on here to get their professional opinion. I realize it's just your opinion and this is ultimately my decision. I just want to be sure I make the right one.

Thank you. :)
Hi Famv

Just a quick note (assuming you're in the States):

Dental insurance in America does't work like Medical insurance does...if you do not continue your current coverage thru COBRA, you will most likely NOT qualify for treatment under his new Dental coverage -- Dental insurance require waiting periods for all treatment except cleanings and will generally NOT cover any injury/treatment that was diagnosed prior to signing up for any new plan.

Translation = if you have any coverage under the Dental coverage thru his former employer, you'd better elect COBRA for the Dental insurance and have your work done on that plan, or risk having the new plan pay nothing towards your "pre-existing condition".

HINT: Some COBRA plans are written differently. I've administered plans that would NOT allow ex employees and dependents to opt for Dental only - you had to elect Med, Den together (in your case, considering how outrageous your Med premiums are, you may as well just pay for Dental work out of pocket anyway). And I've also administered plans that did allow ex employees and dependents opt for Dental only, which in your case would be well worth the premium for a few months if it saves you a few thousand $$. Check with the HR/Benefit dept of your husbands previous employer for advice on this. And don't delay - you generally have a 60 day window to elect COBRA.

Good luck. And be proud of yourself -- you've got a plan in place for treatment and that's at least 25% of the battle in my estimation. I hope your husband's new job is better than his last and the former employer calls him begging to come back while he can say "No thanks!!" :)