Should You Get A Root Canal Or A Dental Implant?

Do you have a problem tooth and aren't sure what to do about it? Your dentist has probably given you some choices. Root canals, extractions, and dental implants are the most common solutions for problem teeth. You don't want to get an extraction without putting something in its place. After all, who wants a noticeable gap in their smile? So, your real choices are either a root canal or a dental implant. Which one is the better choice? While a lot depends on your individual tooth situation, there are some generalities that can be applied to most people who need to choose between these two dental treatments.

Here's what you need to know about root canals and dental implants, so you can make an informed decision on the choice for you.

1. Both Are Equally Effective Choices

According to the American Association of Endodontists, both root canals and dental implants are equally effective in fixing a problematic tooth. However, getting a root canal can usually be accomplished in one visit, while getting a dental implant can take three or more visits to extract the tooth and affix the implant to the jaw bone.

Endodontists typically view the root canal as the simpler, easier option for most patients. If the root canal fails, as is sometimes the case, the option to get a dental implant is always still there.

However, if there is discoloration or some other obvious cosmetic defect with the tooth that can't be fixed with a root canal, some patients may prefer to get the implant. A dental implant results in a perfect-looking prosthetic tooth that can't be distinguished from the real thing. Some people find it's often worth the extra effort to get the implant to have the prettier tooth.

2. Will You Comply Closely With Aftercare Instructions?

How likely are you to comply with aftercare instructions? With a root canal, gargling with salt water during the healing process, eating soft foods for a few days, and then brushing and flossing the tooth regularly from then on to keep it sanitary are all important parts of aftercare. If you don't think you can comply, you may be better off getting a dental implant.

Of course, there are aftercare instructions with dental implants, too. However, your tooth won't suffer if you eat your normal foods once the implant is in (if you're not too sore to do so for a few days). Your tooth also won't get discolored, diseased, decayed, or fall out if you are prone to neglecting your brushing and flossing, since it is a prosthetic tooth.

Your likely behavior after whichever treatment you choose should be a big determining factor in which option you select. You and your dentist can discuss this to decide on the best treatment for you.

3. Is Your Tooth Severely Damaged?

While a root canal may stop the pain in a severely damaged tooth, it may not be enough to stop or reverse any additional decay or periodontal disease in that area. If your tooth is severely damaged or you have significant gum disease around it, you will most likely be better off getting a dental implant.

In these cases, a dental implant provides more stable and predictable results than a root canal. You can be fairly certain your dental implant will stand the test of time and will put an end to any ongoing problems your tooth or surrounding gums may be experiencing.


The decision of whether to get a root canal or a dental implant is a big one. Both are intensive oral procedures, but both can also provide excellent results. Many people could easily choose either and be happy. Some people have circumstances that must lead them to one choice or the other. Talk to your dentist, someone like Darryl A. Field, DDS, PA Periodontics & Implant Dentistry, today about which option is the best one for your own unique dental situation.