Your tooth has got to the point where you are faced with these two treatment options, a dental implant or a root canal treatment. Ideally you would do everything possible to keep your tooth. But how do you decide when you have spent enough time, energy and money on a tooth?
It is important to consider the following factors and gather clear information about your tooth:
- Consider the amount of remaining natural tooth versus what is a filling. The more remaining natural tooth, the more likely you are going to keep the tooth and choose a root canal treatment. In these cases the tooth can be beautifully rebuilt with fillings and crowns. However, if all of the tooth structure above the gum is lost, the tooth can be difficult to rebuild and more easily break in the future. A dental implant may last longer in these situations.
- Consider if the tooth has already had a root canal treatment. If the existing root canal treatment has failed and become re-infected it will either require re treatment or removal. Root canal treatments often have a higher failure rate the second time they are treated. However it is my experience that many are highly successful. Some people are happy to take the risk and spend the money, others would like to remove the tooth and put the money towards a dental implant.
- Dental implants have an excellent success rate long term. However they are not without problems. Dental Implants are highly likely to fail in the presence of some health conditions such as diabetes. Gum disease and smoking can also cause an implant to fail. So if a tooth has a good chance of success with a root canal treatment, this can be a better choice.
- Nothing is like your own natural teeth. We think of teeth that have root canal treatments as dead teeth. However, around the tooth root is a periodontal ligament full of nerve fibres and very much alive. Whilst the inside of the tooth is not there anymore, the outside proprioception is. Proprioception is the feeling a tooth has when you bite on it. It stops you biting too hard, and helps you know where the tooth is in your mouth. Implants have no proprioception.
We are weighing up the amount of time, effort and cost, versus the probability of success. Consequently, deciding between a dental implant and a root canal treatment can be a very personal decision and is different for everybody.