At first glance, dental implants and root canals seem to have little to do with each other. A root canal saves a tooth that is badly infected or decayed, preparing it to receive a crown. A dental implant replaces a missing tooth. However, since the only alternative to a root canal is an extraction, it is possible that you could find yourself facing this choice. Here are some things to think about when making your decision.
Viability of the Tooth and Jawbone
Most dentists agree that it is almost always better to save a tooth than to replace it. However, if your tooth is in very poor condition, a root canal may only delay the inevitable. If your jawbone is strong and healthy, but your tooth is crumbling, it may be better to go ahead and extract the tooth and replace it with a dental implant. If your jawbone is in poor condition, though, you might need to undergo bone grafting and a lengthy healing process before a dental implant can be placed. In this case, the root canal might be a better solution.
Time and Money
A root canal can be completed in a single appointment, though you may need to return for a second visit to have a permanent crown placed on the tooth. Traditional dental implants require several appointments for scans and treatment planning, dental implant placement, and placement of the final restoration. If you are a candidate for an immediate load implant, you might need just two appointments to plan and place your dental implant and final restoration.
Root canals are less expensive than dental implants. Although prices vary, a root canal may be less than half the cost of a dental implant topped by a crown or a bridge. If money is a concern, it might be worth trying to save even a very damaged tooth.
Lifespan of the Restoration
A root canal topped with a crown may last upwards of 15 years, depending on how well your teeth are maintained. However, there is always the risk of needing further dental work on the affected tooth. Dental implants are considered the longest lasting dental restoration, and they can easily last a lifetime. If you are ready to stop worrying about the tooth for good, especially if you have had previous work done on it, you might prefer to go ahead and replace it with a dental implant.
Dental care is highly personalized, and what works well for one patient may be not be right for another. We will take the time to explain your options and guide you through the process of deciding which solution is best for you.