10 Questions to help you decide between a dental implant or root canal:
Now that you understand the benefits and risks of dental implant and root canals, it’s time to decide which is better for you. Here is a list of questions to help you decide between a dental implant or root canal. Please answer each question with either a “yes” or “no“:
- Did you break your tooth very badly? Essentially there is hardly any visible tooth structure left above your gum lines?
- Is your tooth very badly infected?
- Is your tooth loose, shaking or it’s roots are separating?
- Does your dentist sound doubtful about the 5-year prognosis of your tooth?
- Is the cost of a dental implant relatively comparable to that of a root canal and crown?
- Are you okay paying extra for the reassurance that you won’t have to worry about your problem again in the future?
- Are you physically healthy enough to perform surgeries?
- Have you already had a failed root canal or crown on the tooth in question?
- Have you had other root canals which have failed in the past?
- Do you already have one or more successful dental implants in your mouth?
Better candidate for dental implants
If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions then you consider a dental implant over root canal. Here is why:
Questions 1 through 4: Condition of your tooth
Performing a root canal only makes sense if your tooth is expected to last at least 5 years. For this to happen, there needs to be enough tooth structure left to comfortably support a crown. Very badly infected teeth are also not likely to last much longer, with or without a root canal. You’re better off going with a dental implant instead of a root canal in these cases.
Questions 5 and 6: Affording the implant
Dental implants almost always cost more than root canals do. If money is tight, you might have to take a gamble on root canal to see if it works. Still, don’t push your luck too much here. Root canals aren’t cheap neither so you should still expect your tooth to last for a while.
There are occasions where your dental insurance pays substantially towards a root canal but not as much, or sometimes nothing, towards dental implants. Again, it might be worth trying the root canal first to see what happens. However, if you’re okay paying extra for the peace of mind, then a dental implants is still a better choice in these boarder-line situations.
Questions 7: Your medical status
You have to be healthy enough to perform oral surgeries in order to receive dental implants. The good new is that there are actually very few conditions that preclude you from having oral surgeries. Aggressive cancer therapy affecting the jawbones is one of these conditions. There are also certain bone conditions in addition to localized bone loss within the jawbones that can complicate matters. Talk to your dentist to see if you’re healthy enough to receive dental implants or if you require additional preparation in advance.
Question 8: Previous tooth history
The more a tooth is worked upon, the weaker and more fragile it becomes. Teeth with a history of a failed root canal treatment don’t have very good 5-year prognosis. Similarly, teeth which have had their crown break or fall off repeatedly are most likely too weak to support a crown. These teeth are both better candidates for dental implants than root canals. A root canal or crown is most likely going to fail again sooner than later.
Questions 9 through 10: Previous success rates
We’re not going to discount factors such as age, luck and your dentist’s skills when it comes to deciding between a dental implant or root canal. If you’ve already had lots of successful root canal treatments and are happy with them, then go ahead and try another root canal and see how it ends up. On the other hand, if you’ve had one or two failed root canals then maybe you should go with an implant instead. Or vice versa, if you’ve had a dental implant or two fail then maybe it’s best to stick with root canals.
Better candidate for root canal treatment
If you answered “no” to most of the above questions then you should consider a root canal first.
Final thought on deciding between a dental implant or root canal
It’s always preferable to keep your own tooth, but only when the tooth is expected to last for a good while. You want to make sure your tooth has a good chance of lasting 5 or more years if it was to receive a root canal. Generally speaking, successful treatment is considered one lasts at least 5 years, which is also referred to as 5-year prognosis. If your 5-year prognosis for a root canal treatment is good, then you should proceed with having the root canal done.
However, whenever your 5-year prognosis is looking bleak then you should bypass the root canal. Go straight to a dental implant instead. Receiving a root canal should not be considered as a temporary fix just to get you through for a short while. Receiving a root canal is not worth it if you’re going to lose the tooth this soon. Talk to your dentist to reassure you that they expect good long-term prognosis whenever dealing with a compromised tooth.
Keep in mind that there is no guarantee of longevity or success rate of any dental treatment, including a dental implant or root canal. However, an experienced dentist should be able to provide you with some idea to the condition of your tooth. This can assist you in making the right decision regarding which route to take. So take some time to discuss with your dentist and choose the treatment that’s more suitable for your needs.