Dental Implants vs. Root Canals

Dental Implants vs. Root Canals
January 31, 2018 Adam Harwood

Over the past few years, there’s been a major debate within the dental industry that pits patients against dentists when it comes to properly treating a decaying tooth. This debate stems from the overwhelming flood of patients seeking to correct their tooth decay problems using tooth replacement therapies, as opposed to the traditional tooth saving procedures that dentist have recommended and performed in the past.

Why are patients suggesting the tooth replacements? With an influx of new implants and dentures flooding the dental market, endodontist are finding that many patients are overly quick to discard their natural teeth in favor of a replacement tooth. While dental implants and dentures certainly have their appropriate uses, the claim that all tooth decay issues can be simply remedied with an implant or denture is flawed thinking at best.

To better understand why saving a tooth is still the preferred method when treating tooth-decay, it is important to understand why an overwhelming amount of endodontists prefer root canal therapy as opposed to a dental implants or dentures. In dentistry, saving a natural tooth is always the best and preferred option of dental professionals because there is nothing better to preserving a person’s oral health than their natural teeth. While implants and dentures have their medical need and are generally safe procedures, there is no dispute that there is a higher chance of infection when embedding a foreign substance into a person’s mouth. Furthermore, the dental industry has also come to a collective agreement that natural teeth provide better biting and chewing for patients than their implant counterparts. Combined with the high success rate and consistent results of the traditional root canal procedure, these are the primary reasons why the vast majority of dental professionals will always recommend saving a patients natural tooth through medical therapy as opposed to an implant.

That said, oral health and functionality are not the sole reasons why dentists prefer root canal therapy to dental implants. Two other factors to consider when analyzing the root canal vs. dental implant debate are time and cost. The average cost of a root canal procedure typically ranges anywhere from $700-$1,500 per tooth depending on what type of tooth is being treated. This cost stands in stark contrast to the average cost of a dental implant, which ranges from $3,000-$5,000.

There’s also the time involved with each procedure. The typical root canal, depending on the severity of the infection, requires 1-3 visits to your endodontist’s office for the tooth to be successfully treated. This process can usually be accomplished in a month’s time as opposed to the long process of dental implant implementation. When implanting a dental implant in a patients mouth, the patient can expect the process to take anywhere from five months to a year for the process to be completed. This is because dental implant implementation is a three-phase process that includes tooth extraction and bone grafting, which is then followed by the placement of an artificial root. Finally, the process concludes with a subsequent placement of an artificial crown, followed by a 1-3 month healing process determined by each individual patient’s own body chemistry. In other words, root canal therapy is far cheaper and less time consuming than receiving a dental implant.

Let me reiterate that dental implants and dentures have a necessary role in helping to create the best possible outcomes for patients, depending on each individual patient’s oral needs. But implants are not always the best substitute for natural teeth. Beyond providing better biting and chewing, a patient’s natural tooth is safer than an implant and patients should familiarize themselves with the facts about why that is.

Furthermore, the lower cost and quicker turn around associated with traditional root canal therapy is another factor patients need to consider when deciding between medical therapy and an implant.

If you have any questions, or need to schedule a root canal, contact us here.