Comparing Root Canal Treatment and Dental Implants – Which One is Right for You?

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which dental treatment to chooseIf you are confused between whether to opt for root canal (RC) treatment or dental implant for your tooth/teeth, let me tell you the basic difference between the two procedures – while a dental implant completely replaces your natural tooth with a new artificial tooth, root canal treatment saves your tooth. If you make a comparison between the two, you will find still more points that differentiate them from each other from which you will understand that a dental implant is not an alternative to root canal treatment. Let’s take a look.

Two Different Procedures

Root canal treatment and dental implants are actually two very different procedures. Root canal treatment is aimed at saving your tooth from having to be extracted. So, if a tooth is decayed or damaged so much that there is no other alternative than to extract it, root canal treatment is not considered for that tooth. On the other hand, a dental implant is meant for replacing your missing tooth and provides you the functionality and aesthetics of a natural tooth.

What Do Dentists Prefer?

A dentist’s approach is to do her/his best to save your natural tooth/teeth, because there is nothing that can be better for the health of your oral cavity than your own teeth. So, they always go for root canal treatment if they see a chance to save your tooth/teeth. However, if the tooth is so damaged due to infection that it is impossible to be saved, the dentist would suggest you to have a dental implant.


Dental Implants – A Great Option for Tooth Replacement

It is better to have an artificial tooth in your mouth than having nothing. If you lose a tooth, your dentist will always recommend you to get a dental implant. This is because when a tooth is lost, the jawbone that holds and supports its root starts shrinking slowly, because the tooth was its stimulator to stay in shape. When the jawbone thus shrinks, it overall affects your bite and also a domino effect (chain reaction) is caused which further causes tooth loss.

When a gap is created due to tooth loss, the teeth on either side of the space try to move in, for replacing the missing tooth. This makes them tilted and crooked, which further gives rise to problems of oral hygiene and a misaligned bite.

At this stage, implant dentistry can play an important role to prevent all these bad effects, by replacing the tooth root and tooth, with the implant and crown (the upper part, simulating the tooth). Dental implant when placed at the site of the missing tooth root, it will merge with your jawbone after some months. After the dental implant is thus merged, the crown is placed on it and you will get a replacement of your lost tooth. It will appear and feel quite like your own natural tooth.

dental implant

So, Which One is Better – Root Canal or Dental Implant?

If the tooth can survive for a long time, root canal is the best therapy to choose, while if you know that though your dentist is successful in cleaning the infection in your tooth, it won’t go for a long time because it has nothing remained to call a tooth, you better get it extracted and a dental implant placed there. Of course, your dentist can better decide this and will discuss all the available options with you.

Cost Comparison

The price of root canal treatment at a specialist endodontist can range from $1700 to $2700. The variation of cost depends on the difficulty level involved and the type of tooth (a tooth can have only one internal canal or even four canals in them).

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A dental implant on the other hand is more expensive than the root canal treatment because it includes tooth extraction too. Overall, dental implant costs around $5500 to $6500, thus a lot more than RC.


A study done to compare the cost-effectiveness of RC and dental implants found the following points:

Initial Treatment: Root canal treatment, when considered the first treatment, was found to be more cost-effective than the dental implant. The lifetime cost of RC per year is $7 to $12, thus even cheaper than extracting the tooth and replacing it with a partial denture or bridge.

Re-treatment: In the event of failure of initial RC treatment, conventional re-treatment (non-surgical) made a more cost-effective option as compared to extraction of tooth and placement of a dental implant.

Failed Retreatment: If the retreatment after the RC fails, then the tooth extraction and replacing tooth with an implant, denture or bridge is more cost-effective.

All in all, if your dentist considers the conventional root canal therapy a preferable solution, from a point of view of cost-effectiveness, studies too suggest that it is a good choice.

Comparison of Success Rates

Dental research has shown that success rate of both the treatments is excellent. The success rate of RC was found to be ranging between 92% and 97% (in a time frame of 4 to 8 years) while that of dental implants was found to be between 95% and 99% (in a time frame of 2 to 16 years). This indicates that the success rate of both the procedures is quite similar, though slightly better in case of dental implants (with a larger time frame involved).

Challenges Faced by Teeth Taking Root Canal Treatment

Improving the appearance of a tooth with root canal therapy is a fairly challenging task. And actually remarkable improvements can be achieved with a dental crown. However, in some cases where some factors like exceptionally bad tooth alignment is involved, achieving aesthetic outcome is almost impossible and so, extracting tooth and replacing it with an implant can achieve the desired alignment.

tooth extraction

Challenges for Dental Implants

While positioning a dental implant, a dentist should stick to rules of jawbone (its shape, quality of bone, adjacent anatomical structures). Sometimes, sticking to these rules may meddle with positioning it correctly so as to achieve the most perfect aesthetic effect.

Another possible problem is inability of the dentist to make the junction of crown and gum line look natural. So, to make it look natural, root canal treatment is a more preferable choice of treatment, especially in people whose affected tooth/teeth look prominently from outside while talking or smiling.

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