What is a Root Canal?
During a root canal procedure, the tooth’s nerve and blood supply is removed, and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and filled. The treatment is performed to save a badly damaged or infected tooth or remove a decayed tooth (an extraction). The purpose is to eliminate pain caused by an infected pulp (the soft tissue inside the tooth) and prevent infection from spreading.
Treating a diseased tooth requires removing the pulp. Once the root canals are cleaned, they are filled with a material such as gutta-percha that acts as a barrier against future bacterial growth. After the filling is placed, the tooth is restored with either a crown or cap. The entire procedure takes about one hour per tooth.
Root canal treatment can save teeth that might otherwise need to be extracted. However, it’s not always successful: if too much of the pulp has been destroyed or there is still infection present after root canal therapy, the patient may still need an extraction.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a small post that is surgically placed into the jawbone. The post is then used to anchor an artificial tooth, bridge, or denture.
Before a dental implant can be placed, your dentist needs to make sure that your oral health is stable, that your jawbone is healthy and strong enough to support an implant, and that you have no other conditions (such as diabetes) that could complicate the procedure.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Procedure
Various factors—your budget, condition of your mouth, and shape and stability of your jawbone—will determine whether you and your dentist choose a root canal or a dental implant.
Root Canals. The cost of any dental procedure varies by dental practice and geographic location.
In the US, a root canal procedure can average between $600 and $1,000. If you have no insurance at all, the least expensive option, if suitable for your condition, is a root canal.
Root canal treatment is a preventative measure that can stop further damage to the tooth and surrounding bone. The procedure usually involves two separate appointments, although some dentists will carry out both parts in one session.
Treatments vary from dentist to dentist but typically involve a local anesthetic and possibly sedation. The entire root canal procedure is usually completed within one or two hours.
Treatment with a dental implant can take up to six months to complete, meaning it is not always suitable for emergency dental issues.
Dental Implants. The cost of dental implants varies significantly and is typically much more expensive than a root canal. Some insurance companies only cover up to $1,500 per tooth, and you'll have to pay out-of-pocket if the total cost exceeds that amount.
However, a dental implant is a permanent solution. The process of getting dental implants may take extra time and a series of appointments, but once placed, they’re solid, stable fixtures that can last a lifetime.
Dental implants are an excellent option in function, longevity, and aesthetics. They're placed directly into the jawbone and act like a tooth’s root. A prosthetic tooth or crown is then fitted on top.
Dental implants are a great alternative to removable dentures or bridgework because they can be permanently fixed in place and are less prone to cause problems with chewing, and speaking.
Dental implants may be the only option for patients who’ve experienced severe damage or trauma to their teeth. Dental implants are also helpful for those who wish to conceal gaps in their smile since they look and feel exactly like natural teeth and blend flawlessly with your smile.
Your Dentist Can Help You Decide Which Procedure is Best For You
The best way to determine which procedure—a root canal or a dental implant—is right for you is to schedule a consultation. Your dentist will examine the tooth and make a recommendation based on your budget, overall health, and the tooth's condition.
Your dentist’s expertise will help you determine the appropriate treatment for your unique needs.