Root Canal vs. Implant: What is the Difference?

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a standard procedure that involves carefully cleaning and removing the pulp from the root canal to save natural teeth from disease or infection.

Why would someone need a root canal?

Root canals have saved many teeth from being pulled.

When cavities and decay begin to destroy the enamel, they can reach below the tooth’s surface, enter the canal system, and infect the tooth roots. When this happens, the tooth can become very painful or loose, and the infected tissue must be removed.

The infected root is cleaned and fitted with a special filling to seal the root canal space. Proper care will prevent infection to the root and allow restoration that can last many years or decades.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a titanium tooth root replacement that provides the foundation for a permanent restoration. Dental implants replace missing teeth caused by trauma, disease, or tooth extraction.

Dental implant surgery begins with the titanium implant placement beneath the gums and jawbone and allows osseointegration (the implant becoming firmly united with living bone) to occur. The root implant must be stable and long-lasting before the implant is fitted with a final restoration. Once the healing time is complete, the dentist can include a dental crown or bridge to the implant to complete the patient’s smile.

How are dental implants different from root canals?

Though both offer restoration in a tooth’s root system, several differences exist between root canal therapy and a dental implant procedure.

  • A root canal, or endodontic therapy, is a treatment that saves a tooth from infection and root canal procedures. Dental implants are more involved because they require root replacement, only performed by a professional implant dentist.
  • Root canal treatment can be done in one appointment, and dental implants might take several appointments and times.
  • Root canals involve the placement of a resin into the canals to fill the space, and dental implants replace the entire area with a single titanium rod implanted into the jawbone.
  • Root canals save the remaining tooth structure from restoring a damaged tooth, whereas dental implants replace the entire structure with an artificial tooth.

Both procedures are designed to benefit the patient’s overall health and dental structures, but they do so differently.

How much does each procedure cost?

The root canal procedure is much less expensive than a dental implant restoration. Root canals are performed in one visit for between $350- $500, where a single dental implant and dental crown can cost between $1,000-$2,000.

Dental implant costs are much more expensive because root replacement is a more advanced procedure, and the root implant must be placed appropriately by a professional implant dentist.

The root canal treatment will save the healthy tooth if root canal therapy is successful. On the other hand, a dental implant replaces the natural tooth root structure and replaces an entire root system. The implant is permanent in the patient’s mouth and will last for decades, whereas root canals do not include restoring an entire root system.

Which procedure is more successful in the long run?

Dental implants are more successful than root canals because of the implant’s superior strength and durability. Root canal treatment has a high success rate, and failure is not common. However, an infected tooth can become reinfected months or years later. When this happens, the patient is at risk for infecting the gums and other natural teeth from root canal failure.

With dental implants, patients can avoid a root canal if they have a severely diseased tooth or missing tooth. Dental implants are designed to provide a permanent root structure and can last decades or a lifetime.

What are the risks associated with each procedure?

Root canals and dental implants are considered safe, but the failure of each procedure is still possible, and there are always risks involved.

Risks with Root Canals

An infected root canal can become reinfected after root canal therapy if the root structure is not fully treated. Sometimes, the pulp chamber can be very intricate, and curves can complicate the process. The more complicated the root system and canals are, the more likely bacteria are missed during the procedure. If the dentists do not successfully remove all the infected areas, the existing tooth will become reinfected.

If the natural tooth becomes reinfected, the patient will require retreatment to remove the bacteria. The dentist will reenter the canal by extracting the resin and other restorations.

Risks of Dental Implants

Dental implants can fail if the jaw bone cannot support the implanted tooth. This typically happens if the jaw bone is too thin or multiple implants are placed too close for the surrounding bone to heal correctly, resulting in implant failure. However, with the help of modern technology, dentists who specialize in dental implants can carefully and strategically place implants into specific areas of the bone where the success rate is higher.

Root Canal vs. Implant: Which option is best for you?

In the end, root canals and dental implants each have their advantages. In some cases, one procedure may be a better choice than the other, and ultimately, you should decide which treatment is best for your dental health.

A root canal has a high success rate and treats infections, but root canal failures are possible. Dental implants can be more expensive, but they provide a complete root structure and are more durable than root canals. In some cases, root canals may be a better choice for the patient, but in other cases, dental implants have a higher success rate and are worth the cost.

It is best to consult your dentist and discuss root canals and implants before deciding between your treatment options. At Metro Dental, we specialize in both root canals and dental implants. Our dental team is here to help you determine which option will be best for your dental needs. Contact us today!