As holistic dentistry continues to shape the ideas of modern dentistry, a new question has arisen for those whose tooth is severely breaking down – should I save my tooth with a root canal or just get a dental implant?
A root canal attempts to save your tooth. This is done by removing infected nerve tissue inside of it, and filling with a replacement material called gutta percha. Most times, a dental crown is also placed on the root canal performed tooth to prevent break down and fracture of the tooth itself. On the other hand, a dental implant is placed when your original tooth has been removed. The dentist will then screw a dental crown to a metal post that is installed inside your jawbone to help you chew as if your tooth was still in there.
There are several factors to consider before making this decision, and you will find all the required information below.
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE CHOOSING A TREATMENT.
Once your dentist has determined that your tooth can be salvaged, you need to choose between either a root canal or a dental implant. The following are questions you should be asking yourself when making this important decision:
- What are the overall success rates for both of these options?
- Do you have a medical history that can prevent one or both of the treatments?
- Does your dentist have the adequate level of training to perform these procedures?
- How strongly do you feel about preserving your natural teeth?
- The financing options: can you afford a dental implant?
- What are the recovery times for both options?
Statistically speaking, most patients tend to prefer dental implants, as it gives the impression to be a fast and reliable solution to their missing tooth needs. However, most dental care professionals will always recommend a root canal to preserve the patient’s natural teeth if he or she finds that they can save it.
Let’s break down both options, and see what option works best for your particular needs.
ROOT CANALS – A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE.
What is a Root Canal?
Inside your natural tooth, there is a soft tissue bundle called the pulp. It contains several connective tissues, nerves, and blood vessels, all of which help your tooth form during its development stage.
Sometimes, this pulp becomes riddled with bacteria and needs to be removed (as seen with deep dental decay). A root canal cleans the cavity, and the infected tissue inside the tooth’s canals. Once medicines and irrigants completely sterilize the inside of the canals, a filling material called gutta percha is used to fill the canals. A build up material is then placed, followed by a tooth cap that helps secure the longevity of the tooth itself.
Advantages of Having a Root Canal Procedure.
There are many advantages when choosing a root canal procedure. The most important one being that you get to keep your natural tooth. Natural teeth will always outperform implants in chewing and biting, and when done properly, nullifies the risks of further infection.
Also, they tend to be cheaper, faster, and most procedures are nearly painless. Lastly, with a root canal treatment, your smile will maintain a natural feel to it – although there might be a need to place a crown to fix the damage and decay.
Disadvantages of Having a Root Canal Procedure.
Not everything is a bed of roses, unfortunately. Sometimes, your tooth can have sustained too much damage and infection over time to save it with a root canal procedure. Or, some complications might arise during the procedure, like abscesses, which happen when not all of the infected tissue is removed – in which case a root canal retreatment procedure may be needed.
If you are not covered by dental insurance, root canals can still become expensive, especially when paired with dental crowns. They are still less expensive than implants, but if you need several and lack insurance, your budget might not allow it.
Root Canal Average Costs.
The average costs for a root canal treatment depend on some key factors, like the kind of tooth being treated and the insurance coverage, not to mention demographic factors and overall quality of life index.
Simply put, a root canal might vary from $250 to $500 with an average insurance coverage. Without insurance, these values could rise to a range between $1,000 and $1,500. You need to remember that these values are estimates. Your reality might differ, considering the extent of tooth damage, the need for a crown installment, your dental insurance, and which tooth is needing the root canal (molar root canals tend to be more expensive).
Root Canal Success Rates.
A 2008 study revealed that over four to eight years after the procedure, the short-term success rate ranges from between 92% and 97%. Additionally, a 2007 study proved a long-term survival rate of around 97% – a survival rate is how likely a procedure is meant to last over time.
The same articles also note a high patient satisfaction with root canal care.
Root Canal Treatment and Post-Op Care.
In most cases, a root canal treatment will always require less visits to your dentist’s office when compared to a dental implant. We can safely say that, including a dental crown, the procedure will require between 3 to 5 hours of total appointment time – divided into up 2-3 visits.
If your tooth is severely damaged below the gum line, you might need an additional procedure called a crown lengthening. This will add time to the completion of the restoration after your root canal therapy has been completed.
DENTAL IMPLANTS – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a mechanical device created to replace your natural missing tooth. Its construct is simple, you need an artificial tooth root inserted into your jawbone, over which a dental prosthesis can be placed (a dental crown, a bridge, or sometimes even a denture). The screw portion of the implant is composed of titanium, which is the only metal that the body freely integrates with and accepts.
A dental implant refers to all of these parts combined. It can be either screwed or cemented in the case of crowns and bridges, or clipped into place, for dentures.
Advantages of Having a Dental Implant.
We can list several advantages for this procedure:
- Great aesthetics: The implant will be tailor-made to fit your mouth, matching your other teeth’s shape and color.
- The implant is functional: Granted, not as functional as natural teeth, but an implant will still provide you with excellent biting and chewing functionality, and no speech problems whatsoever.
- They last longer: An implant will, in most cases, outlive a root canal procedure. If you’re thinking about the long run, an implant makes more financial sense for a lot of patients.
Disadvantages of Having a Dental Implant.
There aren’t many, but you still need to consider these following factors:
- Not covered by insurance: Most insurances in the country often exclude dental implants, meaning you will probably have to apply for a financing.
- More invasive and more lengthy: Consider all the steps required, removing your tooth, allowing your gum to heal, prepping your jawbone, and placing the implant.
- More pain and a longer recovery time: There is a fair amount of swelling and pain during the healing process. Also, you might need to change your diet to chew softer meals.
- Chance of developing an infection: Peri-implantitis is an infection of your dental implant that can lead to implant failure.
Dental Implants Average Costs.
Since they are usually not covered by any kind of medical insurance, the whole dental implant procedure could range anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 per tooth. At Best Dental, we currently charge $1,995 for our dental implants. This includes the abutment and crown as well.
There are several financing options, though, and since the procedure itself takes longer than a root canal, you can create a programmed budget to suit your needs and reality.
Dental Implants Success Rates.
From that same 2008 study about root canals, there is a 95%-99% success rate for dental implants on the range of 2 to 16 years after the procedure.
Patient satisfaction is also quite high. About 88% of patients who have had an implant, would choose that approach again. And from these patients, over 90% stated they were extremely satisfied with their procedures.
Dental Implants Treatment and Post-Op Care.
Full-on restoration of a tooth’s space with dental implants usually take the same amount of appointment time – from 4 to 6 hours. However, because there are more steps required, and more healing to be done, there are also more visits to the dentist.
It can take anywhere from 3 to 9 months to complete the dental implant procedure, during which your dentist might prescribe you with antibiotics to help with the swelling and pain. Lastly, if your gum tissue or jawbone show any signs of deficiency, a bone grafting surgery might be needed prior to dental.
MAKING YOUR FINAL CALL.
In conclusion, there are some final considerations to factor in before deciding whether to go for a root canal or a dental implant.
- How strongly do you feel about keeping your natural teeth? If this is important for you, talk to your dentist about preferring a root canal.
- Do you excessively grind your teeth? Patients who are bruxers tend to do significant damage to dental implants. If you are one of these patients, a root canal may be the preferable option.
- Dental implants have a much higher success and survival rate in non-smokers and non-diabetic patients. If you can’t quit smoking, root canal therapy is recommended.
- If finances are a concern, a root canal may also be a better option for you.
- If your tooth is significantly worn down, a dental implant will last you longer.