When a person’s tooth is damaged in any way, a root canal or dental implant can be indicated to solve the problem.
However, the Root Canal VS Dental Implant debate, and which one is the right choice for you is not so easy to answer.
The choice between these treatments can vary according to the severity of the case and the patient’s situation and needs.
Both of these procedures are effective in promoting oral rehabilitation. And both have pros and cons for those who can choose them, as they are different from each other, both in technique and in the solutions they offer.
When people have a dental issue that can be taken care of with root canal treatment, they often think about extracting the natural tooth and placing a dental implant. But is that truly the correct choice?
Are you uncomfortable with the options your dentist is giving you?
Or maybe you’re having uncomfortable symptoms, but you’re not sure if you need to have the tooth extracted and replaced with an implant or to go with a root canal.
The first thing you should know is that these two treatments are quite different from each other.
Each one presents different solutions and meets different needs.
As such, it is recommended for you to know which treatment is right for your specific situation. To analyze your case and define whether one treatment is preferable over the other. It was with this concept in mind that we prepared this article.
Read on to fully understand what dental implants are and what a root canal is, and learn the different details of each one, when each treatment is advised, and their pros & cons, so that you can take good care of your oral health!
What is a Root Canal?
Root canal treatments are performed on the natural tooth that presents issues in its nerve chamber (also known as the pulp or the internal center of the tooth).
When the pulp is inflamed, infected, necrotic or decaying and cannot be treated, then this procedure is performed to remove the infected tissues within the tooth itself.
Thanks to modern advances in root canal therapy, any region affected by deep caries can be decontaminated (excluding dental decay that has reached the root structure of the tooth).
This treatment consists of reconstructing a part of the natural tooth that has been lost or compromised. A resistant material with color and shade similar to the dental components (enamel and dentin) is used so that, in addition to being functional, the treatment also has aesthetic gains.
It is mainly indicated when the enamel is worn, has suffered a crack or fracture, or for the treatment of caries. The dentist shapes the material so that the gaps are filled and the tooth is complete again.
The great advantage of this procedure is the fact that the natural tooth is maintained. Since the tooth is healthy it is possible to recover it without complications or risk to oral health.
However, it may be necessary to redo this procedure after some time. The reason for it is because it can acquire a yellowish hue and get re-infected over time. But these are situations that vary a lot according to the material used, the care the patients have with their own teeth, and the adopted dental health habits.
The procedure is indicated for patients who already have a very deep caries that have reached the pulp of the tooth.
In cases of accidents that involve a tooth fracture, the nerve may get exposed requiring the patient to undergo root canal treatment.
In addition, there are those without fractures that need to have the tooth removed because of a definite wound in the pulp. Situations like hitting your mouth on a metal bar on full force can result in this scenario (these usually lead to tooth fractures that cannot be repaired).
Keep in mind, however, that everything must be evaluated by your dentist.
As with other oral procedures, root canal treatment requires some aftercare.
One such common practice is for the dentist to insert a filling (with medication) to act in the region where the dental pulp was located.
Therefore, it is recommended to pay special attention to chewing, so as not to fracture the structure of the remaining tooth.
This procedure will also bring other benefits to the patient, such as preventing the occurrence of fistulas, for example.
Do Root Canal Treatments Cause a Loss of Feeling/Sensation?
Talking about root canal treatment can cause fear in many people.
However, the procedure does not to be seen with fear and dread.
Advances in technology and dental science benefits everyone (patient and dentist), making it a simultaneously easier procedure for the dentist and a faster, painless procedure for the patient.
Both during and after the treatment, you will have several, clear, and easy-to-understand instructions from your dentist.
Even so, some doubts still arise in people’s minds about the process. One of the most common ones being: Does the root canal cause a loss of feeling/sensation?
In a root canal procedure, the nerve responsible for tooth sensitivity is completely removed. It is responsible for the feeling or sensation of cold, heat, and pain of your teeth. Therefore, as the dentist says, patients who undergo root canal treatment do end up losing their sensitivity. When removing the pulp, all of the tooth’s senses are affected.
After root canal treatment, the teeth’s resistance to fractures is reduced (this is why a dental crown is recommended to protect the vulnerable tooth after a root canal).
The structure of teeth with large caries is compromised, which results in less resistance to fracture, with more dental fragility. And in some cases, the treatment of the canal with the installation of fiberglass cores to increase dental strength can be associated with the root canal procedure.
Root Canal Pros & Cons
+ Maintain the healthy natural tooth;
+ It is not an invasive treatment;
+ Its cost is significantly lower when compared to dental implants;
+ Painless process;
+ Shorter treatment and fewer appointments;
– Lower durability when compared with dental implants;
– Risk (albeit a low one) of tooth damage.
– Risk of re-infection and needing retreatment.
What Are Dental Implants?
Unlike root canals, dental implants are an invasive treatment, as it is a surgical procedure. Most of the time, these surgeries are minimally invasive, but they are surgeries nonetheless.
In this case, there is no recovery of the natural tooth, but a replacement when it is not healthy anymore. When the individual no longer has his or her tooth, or if its root is compromised a dental implant may be recommended.
Dental implant treatment is indicated for people who have lost one or more natural teeth. By means of oral surgery, the dentist inserts a metallic pin into the bone that serves as a base for the teeth. And it is on that pin where a crown (the visible part of the tooth) will be inserted into the implant.
This means that the implant is actually an artificial tooth root that supports an artificial crown/tooth. The aim is to fill the spaces of the dental arch to favor chewing, speech, and aesthetics of the smile.
This procedure consists of fixing a rod made of bio-compatible material (titanium) to the bone that supports the teeth. It will act as an artificial root that will make it possible to keep the artificial crown in place, similar to the natural teeth in your mouth.
This is a more complex treatment that requires more time for the results to be fully achieved. This is because it is necessary to perform the entire implantation surgery, wait for the osseointegration (fusion) of the pin, and after that, place the definitive prosthesis on it.
Because of the significant extra time and resources needed for the procedure, it is significantly more expensive to perform than root canals.
It is also important to mention that only people who already have the full development of facial bones and dental arch, those who have balanced oral health, and those that present severe bone loss can perform a dental implant.
Do You Know Which Cases Are Indicated for a Dental Implant?
Dental implants are indicated to replace natural teeth in cases where tooth permanence is no longer possible, such as when a fracture occurs that prevents the rehabilitation of tooth functions, advanced periodontal (gum) disease, or different factors that may compromise the structure supporting the bone of the tooth.
Endodontics is one of the dentistry specialties that has been incorporating technology and agility into treatments, making them increasingly effective and predictable. One of these technologies is the use of the operating microscope, where it is possible to solve complex cases that previously would have been practically impossible, such as:
• Teeth with perforations;
• Teeth with calcifications;
• Dental resorption;
• Removing pins (fiberglass or metallic).
As such, it is important to mention that in many cases, teeth that are indicated to be extracted and replaced by implants, can be saved, simply using technology and expertise, and yielding magnificent results.
Dental Implants Pros & Cons:
+ Its durability is extensive;
+ Aesthetically pleasing;
+ Replaces the natural tooth;
– It is a long and invasive treatment;
– Longer recovery period;
– Will take longer to get your tooth restored while you wait for the implant to fuse with your bone tissue.
– Its cost is significantly higher when compared to root canals.
The Bottom Line… Root Canal vs Dental Implant, Which is Better?
Root canals and dental implants each offer different advantages and solutions. As you have seen, these two techniques help to reconstruct the dental arch leaving it complete, functional, and harmonic.
That is why these two procedures maintain the balance of oral health and prevent further complications.
At the same time, they also allow you to achieve a more beautiful image for the smile, bringing aesthetic gains.
However, each has its own peculiarities and significant differences.
And the first thing that you should keep in mind to know if it is better to do a root canal or dental implant is to understand that these two treatments are indicated for different problems.
The positive highlight of root canals is that they make it possible to salvage a broken or damaged tooth that it is still healthy in its root and supporting structures. With this, the psychological impact for the patient is also a lot more positive, since he or she does not lose their tooth.
While in the case of implants, the great advantage of this technique is that it allows the dental arch to be reconstructed when there is no possibility of using natural teeth. And even for those who have been missing teeth for some time, it is possible to recover the smile by making several implants if necessary, which raises self-esteem.
As stated throughout this article, the root canal recover natural teeth, while dental implants replace them. Therefore, having the freedom to choose between the two is not always possible, as it is necessary to take into account several different factors.
Many believe that an implant is a definite option for dental problems, but between root canal or implant treatment, root canal treatment is the most recommended option whenever there is the possibility of tooth recovery.
However, only a professional is able to say whether it is more suitable for a patient to perform a root canal or a dental implant.
To make this decision the dentist will assess all aspects of oral health, the damage suffered by the tooth, and the technique that best meets the circumstance.
In some cases, it may even be that the same patient is submitted to the two treatments on different teeth. After all, one can be strong and healthy, while another tooth is no longer possible to recover. That is why this decision varies widely from person to person, as well as from tooth to tooth.
It is important that any viable choice is properly discussed between patient and dentist. With no blind bias towards one option or the other but a fair judgment of what can and should be done.
This is particularly true in the case of root canals, which aren’t always possible to perform.
Therefore, on the choice between Root Canal VS Dental Implant, you need to properly talk with your trusted dentist first.
You can state your preference, but the professional will always indicate the most effective procedure for your specific case, the one that will bring greater benefits.
Always look for a specialist dentist in your area to carry out an accurate clinical evaluation, considering the predictability of success, and evaluating the advantages and limitations of each treatment technique, prioritizing what is best for YOU, so that in the end you have healthy teeth that are also as aesthetically pleasing as possible!
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Which is more expensive; a root canal or a dental implant?
Dental Implants tend to be more expensive than root canals. On average, the cost of a root canal will range near $1,000, while a dental implant will cost you north of $2,500 on most occasions.
Is an implant safer than a root canal?
There is a debate among holistic dentists that root canals can bring about long term health consequences to our bodies. Although no studies conclusively prove this, many clinicians are turning to implants as a better option than root canal therapy.
Can you reverse needing a root canal?
Unfortunately, you cannot reverse the process of a cavity reaching the nerve tissue of your tooth. If you are not wanting to get a root canal, a dental extraction and replacement with a dental bridge or implant may be your only other option.