Root Canal vs Implant: Which is Right for You?

One of the most important decisions a dentist has to make is choosing which course of action to pursue when creating a treatment plan for a patient.  More specifically, dental professionals often have to determine whether a root canal treatment or dental implant is the best option for their patient.  There are several factors that come into play when making this important decision; however the findings from a new study may persuade professionals and patients to prefer one treatment over the other.

A recent Dental-Tribune article describes the results of a research project where investigators found that while the success rates of both root canal treatments and dental implants are similar, significantly more dental implants required additional treatment after the procedure compared to root canal treatments.   According to lead investigator, James Porter Hannahan, DMD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, saving a natural tooth via root canal typically doesn’t require follow-up treatment and can last a lifetime.  Implants however, in Hannahan’s opinion, have more postoperative complications and higher long-term failure rates.  Also in support of root canals over implants, researchers pointed out that poor oral health and tooth loss have been linked to serious medical conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, making it that much more important to maintain natural teeth.  Dr. Louis Rossman, president of the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) states that implants are very appropriate for patients who are already missing teeth, but endodontic treatment, or root canals, should be the first choice for restoration if a natural tooth can be saved.

The AAE would like to see the general public made more aware of the pros and cons of both procedures, especially with the gaining popularity of dental implants.  It is crucial for dental professionals to explain the major differences between root canal treatment and dental implants so that the patient is educated enough to assist in making the best decision for their oral health.  There are also several factors that must be considered when determining the best treatment plan.  The patient’s individual health and preferences are obviously taken into account, along with several risk factors for each procedure.  Those risk factors can include smoking, bone quality, and estrogen levels in women.  Together, dental professionals and patients can determine which procedure is most appropriate in an effort to reach the highest potential for overall health.

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