Root canals are a relatively standard dental procedure as compared to implants. They are primarily performed for teeth that have damaged roots or an extensive tooth infection. Usually, in a root canal treatment, the dentist numbs the tooth and drills the tooth to access the canals. Each canal is cleaned and disinfected; moreover, the infected pulp is removed, and the root canals are filled with a permanent latex rubber material called the gutta-percha. The tooth is then covered by a dental crown to strengthen the weak tooth. (1)
Dental implants, on the other hand, are recommended for teeth that have been severely damaged and cannot be saved by any other therapeutic treatment. Such teeth are extracted, and a dental implant replaces space. Typically, a dental implant is a titanium post that is placed into the jaw bone at the extraction site. It usually acts as the tooth root and supports the dental crown or bridge.
The placement of the implant is a surgical procedure and often takes a long time to heal. As the titanium screw is a foreign body, it takes 3-6 months to get incorporated into the surrounding bone. This process is known as osseointegration. (2) However, despite the long waiting time, implants are considered as one of the best options for the replacement of missing teeth. Additionally, dental implants have a 95% success rate.
Generally, the choice between getting a dental implant or root canal treatment depends on the patient’s dental condition and cosmetic needs. Let’s look at some of the factors that may help you to determine the right choice of dental treatment suitable for your case.
What should you choose between the two?
Looking at dental implants first, they are considered as one of the most modern and advanced means of tooth replacement. Moreover, implants last for a long time, probably more than 15-20 years or even for a lifetime if taken proper care. Some key points to keep in mind while choosing dental implants are –
- Since it’s a surgical procedure, the risk of infection is roughly about 1% (3)
- The treatment cost is slightly expensive, depending on the type of material used for the implant. Moreover, the cost of surgery and aesthetic restoration may add up to a cost of treatment of $500 – $3000 per tooth.
On the contrary, the root canal procedure has its own set of benefits. One obvious benefit is that it preserves the natural tooth structure and saves you from undergoing surgical tooth extraction. Moreover, it is a less invasive procedure compared to dental implants. Additionally, root canal treatment is less expensive and usually costs around $400 – $1500 per tooth. However, some of the drawbacks of root canal treatment are –
- There are chances that the root canal procedure may not be successful, depending on the experience of the dentist. In such cases, you might have to undergo a re-root canal treatment.
- Extensive re-infections may even lead to tooth extraction in severe cases (4)
It is essential always to weigh the pros and cons of each treatment and make the ultimate decision. Moreover, the choice of therapy should align in line with your needs and preferences. You can always contact your dentist to get more information on any procedure to make your decision easier.