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Is a dental implant or root canal / crown a better long-term investment?

Dental Implant or Root Canal and Crown? A Comparative Assessment of Treatment Alternatives

Smiles Peru generally recommends retaining and rehabilitating natural teeth whenever they have a good prognosis, but the ultimate decision is made by the patient based on his or her needs.  A root canal can be an important treatment to extend the lifespan of a natural tooth.  In the event an extraction is recommended rather than a root canal, replacement of the missing tooth with a dental implant will generally be the recommended course of action.  This article will provide a brief description and the pros and cons of extraction / replacement with a dental implant vs. rehabilitation with root canal to help patients make an informed decision.

Advantages of Dental Implants

Dental implants are small biocompatible titanium screws that serve as replacements for the natural roots of teeth. The patients may have recently lost a tooth or have gone several years or even many years since losing the tooth.  Dental implants have the advantage of preventing further bone loss in the jaw, preserving the shape and symmetry of your face. Bones are like muscles in the sense that if they are not used, they decay. Likewise, the chewing sensation of a dental-implant supported tooth is similar to that of a natural tooth.  Dental implants have success rates greater than 90% over periods of 20-30 years.  When compared to dental bridges, dental implants have the advantage of not negatively affecting adjacent teeth.

Advantages of Root Canal Treatment

We will start by defining endodontic treatment, or root canal therapy, which is the removal of the pulp tissue or “nerve” that is located in the center of the tooth due to different causes such as deep caries or dental trauma (blows); which leads to necrosis (death) of the dental pulp.  Root canal treatment is carried out in order to functionally preserve a tooth and the tissues that surround it, including the bone, the pulp of which is damaged by caries, trauma or other pathologies.  In summary, a root canal extends the lifespan of a natural tooth, but the tooth itself is no longer supported by a living root. Root canal therapy can generally be completed in one appointment, though additional appointments and costs will incurred for the accompanying dental crown.

Reasons to opt for a dental implant rather than root canal

Dental implants are generally recommended when the endodontic treatment is complicated or with a low probability of success, as is the case with root canal retreatments, for example.  Additionally, some patients may have very little tooth coronal structure remaning, in these case a dental implant may be recommended.

In endodontic treatment, as in any dental or medical treatment, there is no “lifetime guarantee”. Under normal conditions the success is very high, however, this may be somewhat lower in teeth that have complicated anatomical conditions or associated pathologies that are difficult to control, such as TMJ.  TMJ, however also reduces the likelihood of success of dental implants.  An informed decision needs to be made between the patient and practitioner.

Dental implants may be preferred over retaining infected teeth.

Root canal therapy can prolong the life of natural teeth.

Reasons to opt for a root canal rather than dental implant

Smiles Peru generally recommends preserving natural teeth whenever possible.  To that end, we often recommend root canals for patients who still have most of their natural teeth because occlusal stability will favor the treatment’s success rate.  Maintaining natural teeth also promotes the regeneration of bone lost due to infection, delaying the need to replace the tooth with prosthetics or implants.  As wonderful as dental implant technology is, most patients would rather retain their natural teeth than replace with a dental implant.

The Economics of the Dental Implant vs. Root Canal Question

A root canal may be expected to provide 5 to 10 years of additional life for a tooth, at which point it may need to be extracted and replaced with a dental implant.  This implies paying for a root canal now and a dental implant in the future.  A dental implant should last a lifetime.  Thus, while a dental implant presupposes a greater up front cost, the total cost may be lower.

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May 28, 2020 Blog, Dental Implants, Oral Rehabilitation, Oral Surgery
About Smiles Peru

Smiles Peru’s interdisciplinary team collaborates to perform complex rehabilitation cases involving multiple specialties in minimum time using the latest technology, techniques and procedures, including CEREC digitally-designed and manufactured crowns and veneers.