When a dental patient is suffering from a cavity, a tooth colored filling is one of the common treatment options available. These cosmetically appealing alternatives to the metal fillings used in former years have grown in popularity and are now the filling used most often in addressing cavities. Some dental patients may still have questions…
Is It Better to Save Your Tooth or Get a Dental Implant?
A dental implant will allow you to say goodbye to a tooth that has a compromised pulp chamber. You could also choose to save the tooth by opting for a root canal instead. With these two options on the table, which one should you choose? Which of the two options is better for you in the long run? Keep reading to find out how to make that decision.
An implant or a root canal?
A dental implant functions like the root of a natural tooth. It is the surest and most permanent way to replace a missing tooth. Getting a dental implant involves one or more minor oral surgeries.
Root canal therapy is the process of removing part or all of the dental pulp, depending on how damaged a tooth is. It is a treatment that allows a person to keep their outer tooth even when the inner tooth is dead.
How to choose
A person has to weigh a number of things in order to make the right choice between a root canal and a dental implant. Here are a few important considerations to think about before choosing one or the other:
1. Will the root canal keep the tooth healthy for a lifetime?
A root canal can keep a tooth functional for a long, long time. This is especially true if the patient's teeth, jaws and gums are in otherwise perfect health. So, if a person only has a single damaged tooth and has no family history of dental problems, then they should try root canal therapy. However, a person who suffers from gum disease or has a history of tooth decay should consider a more permanent treatment.
2. Has a root canal already failed once?
If the problem tooth has already been treated with a root canal, then there is every reason to get a dental implant instead. If the root canal failed the first time, further attempts to save the tooth are likely to fail again. Instead of opting for root canal retreatment, the patient should be ready to rip off the band-aid. They should have the tooth removed and replaced with an implant-supported crown.
3. Will a dental implant last longer than a root canal?
To summarize the two considerations explained above: a root canal can last a lifetime in a perfectly healthy mouth that enjoys excellent oral hygiene. On the other hand, root canal therapy will likely fail in a person with periodontal disease, recurring tooth decay and/or a family history of dental problems.
In comparison, dental implants have a success rate that is north of 98 percent. The outcome of dental implants is much more predictable than the outcome of root canal therapy. A dental implant is all but guaranteed to last a lifetime.
4. Is the patient healthy enough to go through dental implant procedures?
The process of getting dental implants involves one or more minor oral surgeries. A dentist will screen a prospective patient to make sure they are good candidates for dental implant surgery. When screening a patient, the dentist will check if:
- The patient has medical conditions that cause slow healing (like diabetes) or excessive bleeding (like a clotting disorder)
- The patient has a health condition (like a weak immune system) that could be complicated by dental implant surgery
- The patient has enough bone mass in the jaw to support the implants
If the dentist finds that the patient is a suitable candidate, they will start their patient on the process of dental implant surgery.
5. Does the person mind minor oral surgery?
Some people may be leery of going through minor oral surgery. Such people will choose the more conservative option, meaning that they will choose to restore the damaged tooth instead of replacing it. A person who does not mind getting an implant will choose the surgery over a root canal in order to make sure the problem tooth never bothers them again.
Let a dentist help you make a decision
To make the right choice between a dental implant and a root canal, you need to weigh multiple considerations. Luckily, you do not have to make the decision alone. At our San Antonio office, our dentist will give you a comprehensive exam. They will go on to lay out all of your options and give you a recommendation based on the results of the exam and your preferences. That is why you should call or visit us to get that problem tooth treated, once and for all.
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