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Implants versus Root Canals

Here’s a question I’m asked all the time: is it better to get a root canal or just have your ailing tooth extracted and replaced with an implant? My invariable answer is: many factors will determine what’s right for you.

The decision-making process should start with solid information. X-rays or a CT scan can reveal much about the size and robustness of the natural root structure. This usually changes over time. As people age, their teeth become more brittle and less vital; periodontal disease and bone loss also can weaken them. In my opinion, a reasonable rule of thumb is to ask whether the tooth can be expected to survive for at least five years after root canal treatment. If so, the patient may well prefer that option. Otherwise, a dental implant is likely to be a better choice.

Other factors merit consideration too. The price of both forms of treatment may differ, although in some geographic regions that difference is not as considerable as one might expect.

The amount of time and discomfort entailed in each procedure also can differ. Before choosing one course over the other, patients should talk to their dentists and get a clear picture of what would be involved in both.

Yet another consideration is how you would feel about losing the tooth. Different individuals can react to this experience quite differently. It’s a very personal subject. A sensitivity to this question along with the many other factors can help ensure you make the  choice that’s right for you.