You have just gotten the bad news from the dentist: that aching tooth of yours has been severely compromised from decay, trauma or periodontal disease. Now you and your dentist must decide whether to work to save the tooth, or to replace it with an implant. What factors go into making this decision?
Root Canal Therapy:
Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function. Having a root canal done on a tooth is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would have to be removed.
Advantages of saving a tooth through Root Canal Therapy:
- Less expensive to perform Root Canal Therapy than it is to place an implant
- More conservative to perform RCT; can always change to an implant in the future if necessary
- The patient places a high value on keeping their “own” teeth.
- When modern dental advances in saving a tooth are accounted for, the real “success” rate of Root Canal Therapy is roughly comparable to that of dental implants.
Disadvantages of saving a tooth through Root Canal Therapy:
- Re-treatment may be needed because of recurrent decay, reinfection, or a fracture of the restoration or tooth root. With more severe damage the therapy to save the tooth becomes more extensive, sometimes it becomes more cost effective in the long run to choose a dental implant.
- The patient has made heroic attempts to maintain the tooth, but the prognosis is still poor.
Dental implants are artificial roots and teeth (usually titanium) that are surgically placed into the upper or lower jaw bone. The teeth attached to implants are very natural looking and often enhance or restore a patient’s smile. Dental implants are very strong, stable, and durable and will last many years, but on occasion, they will have to be re-tightened or replaced due to normal wear.
Advantages of choosing Dental Implants
- Replace one or more missing teeth without affecting adjacent teeth
- Restore a patient’s confident smile
- Highly predictable
- Often last for many decades
- Aesthetically pleasing completely functional tooth replacement.
- Not subject to tooth decay.
Disadvantages of choosing Dental Implants
- There may not be enough bone for the implants to be placed. This would require additional bone grafting procedures.
- Cost may be significantly higher than root canal therapy; however, if performed successfully their greater longevity will likely make them more economical in the long term.
- The patient can still get gum disease and “peri-implantitis,” which is like periodontitis.
In the end, this is a decision that should only be made after close consultation with a dentist. Our dentists are happy to meet with you to listen to your concerns, explain your options, and help you make the best decision. Please contact us to schedule your free consultation today!