A nagging toothache has been bothering you so you head to the dentist to investigate the source of the pain. During your appointment, your dentist gives you the diagnosis – you have an infected tooth. At this point, it’s safe to say you’re not jumping for joy.
Your dentist will likely give you two treatment options to either save the tooth and keep it in place, if possible, by doing a root canal – or replace the tooth, if necessary, with a dental implant.
Hearing the words “root canal” might cause you to wince. Root canal procedures gained a bad reputation because decades ago they were painful. But don’t let that outdated stereotype make you cringe! Local anesthetics have improved and the instruments used to clean the inside of the tooth are very small. Most root canals can be completed in one visit and are nearly painless.
During a root canal treatment, your dentist removes the source of your tooth pain, also known as the inflamed pulp. Once the inflamed pulp is removed, the tooth is then cleaned, filled and sealed.
Dental implants have been used for decades. Just like root canals, dental implants have come a long way since their breakthrough in the 1960s. In fact, dental implants and root canals yield virtually equal success rates.
Implants require extracting the tooth followed by multiple surgeries to insert a metal post in the jaw and attach a porcelain crown to the post. These surgeries often can take three or more visits to complete, and can be time-consuming and costly. However, if your tooth is severely damaged, an implant might be the best choice. In the end, no one procedure is better than the other.
Your decision to opt for a root canal or a dental implant should be based on the complexity of your case, as well as your preference. Your dentist can help you weigh the pluses and minuses of each option. And, be sure to confirm if your dental insurance covers any costs for a root canal or for an implant, so you know your expected out-of-pocket expenses before making your decision.