If you have a tooth that has become severely damaged or decayed, you may be wondering what your treatment options are. Two of the most common and effective treatments for damaged teeth are root canals and dental implants.
A damaged tooth can be painful, impact your ability to speak and chew comfortably, and increase your risk of infection. But with the right treatment, your tooth can be restored or replaced. We’re here to discuss the differences between root canals and dental implants to help you determine which is right for you.
What is a root canal?
Root canal treatment (also referred to as root canal therapy) is a type of endodontic treatment that can relieve the pain of an infected or abscessed tooth.
Each tooth has a root canal and an associated pulp chamber, which naturally holds nerve tissue, blood vessels, and other cellular structures and provides nourishment to the tooth. This pulp can become infected due to a cracked or damaged tooth when oral bacteria invade this chamber.
During a root canal procedure, a dentist or endodontic specialist removes the infected pulp before cleaning and disinfecting the inside of the tooth and placing a filling to seal the space.
What is a dental implant?
Dental implants are the gold standard for restorative treatments and are performed in cases of missing or severely damaged teeth.
A dental implant is a screw-like post that is surgically embedded to replace the natural root of your tooth. These posts are made from biocompatible materials such as titanium or zirconia, which naturally fuse with your jawbone.
An abutment is then placed to function as an anchor for a crown or bridge, which will act as your tooth replacement. Dental implants are comfortable, look natural, and help improve oral function. Despite common myths about dental implants, they don’t need any specialized ongoing care.
Should you get a root canal or a dental implant?
Factors that impact the right treatment for you
Your recommended treatment plan depends on your specific situation and oral health. Some important factors that will impact whether you need a root canal or a dental implant include:
- Severity of tooth decay – While root canals can be good treatments for moderate tooth decay, serious damage is most effectively treated with a dental implant.
- Number of damaged teeth – If you have multiple damaged or decaying teeth, the root canal process may be extensive and painful. With the All-on-4 implant method, you can have an entire row of teeth replaced with a comprehensive procedure.
- Your age – Older people generally experience a reduction in bone density over time. While most older patients are good candidates, an implant may not be recommended if you don’t have sufficient bone density.
Pros and cons of a root canal
The potential advantages and disadvantages of root canal treatment include the following:
- In some cases, a root canal can preserve your original tooth.
- Root canal therapy can usually be completed in 30-90 minute appointments.
- With anesthesia, the procedure is pain-free and recovery is usually pretty smooth.
- If the tooth decay is severe, a root canal may not be able to save your tooth.
- In some cases, complications after a root canal can lead to the need for endodontic retreatment or an extraction.
- If you need a permanent crown, root canal treatment can require two appointments and a short waiting period between visits.
Pros and cons of a dental implant
Here are a few of the benefits and potential drawbacks of getting a dental implant:
- Dental implants can treat most severe and extensive tooth decay or damage; they can even replace multiple missing teeth.
- Your new implant will seamlessly blend in with your existing smile in terms of color and shape.
- Implants function just like natural teeth and require exactly the same care.
- Dental implants are a longer-term solution; with proper care, some implants can last a lifetime.
- Implant surgery is performed by specialists; at Smart Arches, we focus exclusively on transforming our patient’s smiles with dental implants.
- In cases of significant decay, bone grafting may be required prior to having your implant placed.
- While you can expect a smooth recovery, you may need to temporarily stick to soft foods and take it easy for a few days.
Visit Smart Arches to find out if dental implants are right for you
As dental implant specialists, we understand the complex factors that go into assessing tooth damage and determining the best treatment based on your specific needs and situation. At Smart Arches, we offer the best in dental implant technology.