Before dental implants were developed, root canals were the only way to restore severely damaged or decayed teeth. Nowadays, dental implants provide patients with an entirely different option. However, with two effective options available, it can be tough to know what the best option is for restoring teeth that have been affected by severe damage or decay. Therefore, here is a deeper look at these two options:
Root canals are restorative dental procedures that preserve your natural tooth while eliminating the infection from the innermost layer. During a root canal, your dentist will drill a tiny hole in the top or side of your tooth to access the inside. They will then use a series of root canal files to remove the infected tissue from the pulp chamber and root canals. Before filling the empty chamber and root canals with a rubber material called gutta percha, your dentist will flush the inside of the tooth with a microbial solution to prevent infection. The final step of a root canal is to have the outside of your tooth restored with a dental crown to protect it.
The entire process from root canal to placing a dental crown usually takes about 2-3 dental visits. Generally speaking, root canals are also more affordable than dental implants. However, root canals are not always successful the first time around and the tooth may need to be retreated if a new infection develops. There are also cases where the remaining tooth structure may be too fragile to support a dental crown.
Instead of preserving the natural tooth structure, dental implants will replace the entire tooth once it has been extracted. After the tooth has been extracted, a dental implant will be placed into the jawbone at the empty socket with a post that will later be used to attach a dental crown. As the implant heals, the surrounding bone will fuse with the implant so that it can act as an anchor for a dental crown.
Replacing a severely damaged or decayed tooth with a dental implant eliminates the possibility that the tooth will become infected again and require further treatment. Not only that, but dental implants have an extremely high success rate. Dental implants also offer a close resemblance to the look and function of natural teeth. The results of dental implant treatment also last longer than those of root canal treatment.
With that being said, however, the dental implant procedure is a longer process than root canal treatment. For starters, a minor oral surgery is required to place dental implants. This also means that there is a longer recovery period than that associated with having a root canal. Although discomfort can last about 1-2 weeks, it will take around 3-6 months for the implant to fuse with the surrounding bone.
As you can see, both root canals and dental implants can be used to restore severely damaged or decayed teeth, however in very different ways. Root canals preserve the natural tooth and can be completed quicker, however they also have a higher chance of failure and can require multiple treatments. Dental implants, on the other hand, remove the entire infected tooth, which eliminates the chances of another infection, but also requires oral surgery and a longer recovery period. Ultimately, you will need to consider all these different factors when deciding whether to have root canal therapy or dental implants placed. If you are still unsure, schedule a consultation with your dentist to discuss how these options would work for you specifically.
Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry. He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.