Dental Implant vs Root canal Therapy

What are the Differences ?

Table of Contents dental implant vs root canal therapy

If a tooth becomes inflamed or infected, there are two possible treatment options: Root canal therapy or Extraction with an Implant. When a tooth is removed, it is highly recommended that the tooth be replaced to preserve optimal oral health and avoid bone loss. A dental implant can replace a tooth that was removed due to decay, infection, or damage. But how can you know which treatment option is right for you?

At GeeTee Dental Center in Houston TX 77077, Lead Dentist Abib G BDS,MDS offers both restorative procedures. In this article, we’ll briefly explore each treatment option and discuss the pros and cons of each

What is a dental implant?

Dental implants are artificial tooth root replacements that are surgically implanted into the jawbone, beneath the gum line. Implants are longer lasting than crowns and many people find them more convenient than dentures. They don’t come loose easily and can be used as the foundation to replace individual teeth or your entire smile, as needed. A major advantage of Dental Implants is that they can help preserve bone after tooth loss, thereby limiting future facial deterioration to help maintain a more youthful and healthy appearance.

single tooth dental implant structure

What is Root canal therapy?

Root canal therapy is a type of dental procedure used to preserve a tooth after the pulp of the tooth has become inflamed or infected. This is typically caused by a deep cavity or physical trauma to the tooth such as if you get hit on the face or fall on your face.

Infected and inflamed pulp tissue tooth structure root canal

What is a Dental Pulp / Inside of a Tooth

You might not be aware that every tooth has a Dental chamber that contains a Dental pulp. This is made up of soft connective tissues, nerves, and blood vessels.

Function of a Dental Pulp

The function of the Dental pulp is to create Dentin and provide your tooth with nutrition.

Dental Implant procedure


The Dental implant procedure involves several steps:

  1. Using a surgical guide when necessary, Dr. Abib will surgically place the implant(s) into the jaw.
  2. The jaw is allowed to heal for a period of three to six months depending on how fast your body heals. During this stage, the bone grows and bonds in and around the implant (this is also known as osseointegration). 
  3. The implant is uncovered, and a connector piece called an abutment is attached. The gum is again allowed to heal for a couple of weeks following this procedure. A healing cap is placed on the Implant.
  4. The restoration or crown is fabricated and permanently attached to the abutment.

Root Canal Procedure

root-canal-therapy-illustration 3d

  1. During root canal therapy, Our Dentist will begin by gaining access to the tooth’s interior via a small opening made on the tooth surface then:
  2. Clean out the pulp chamber, 
  3. Disinfect the pulp chamber,
  4. Fill the pulp chamber with gutter patcha, and seal the tooth to protect against re-infection.
  5. Prosthetic posts are sometimes needed in place of a Dental crown, placed in the root canal to help retain a restoration.

Local anesthesia is going to be administered during the procedure so you would not feel any pain. (Read more)

Why You need a crown after a root canal

In most cases, a crown will be placed on top of the tooth structure to prevent cracking or chipping. As a root canal-treated tooth has essentially been hollowed and hence relatively brittle, a crown helps to provide some support to the tooth structure.

Root canal vs Dental implant: Differences between a Dental implant and Root canal 

dental implant vs root canal illustration

We will break down key differences between the two services based on the below criteria:

  1. Function or purpose of each restorative service, Dental implant vs Root canal
  2. The Total cost of Dental Implant vs Root canal
  3. Time / Healing Period after getting either a Dental implant vs Root canal
  4. Possible side effects and complications that may arise depending on if you choose to do a Dental Implant vs Root canal
  5. Aftercare, which of the procedures is going to be easier to maintain after completing the procedure

Function or purpose of a Root canal vs Dental Implant

The key difference between the two procedures is the purpose for which they are used. A root canal therapy is used when you need to try to save the tooth while a Dental implant is used when you need to replace a missing tooth.

Dental implant vs Root canal, which costs the most?

molar tooth illustration and a jar filled with coins

Dental Implant on average costs more than root canal therapy. There’s usually a price difference of about 20% – 40% ( Including the cost of restoring a root canal-treated tooth.) The price of root canal therapy is also dependent on the tooth being restored as the cost of the root canal on a molar with a single root varies significantly from that of a Molar with 3-4 roots. 

Given an  ideal condition, the cost of a Dental Implant is the same regardless of if its the front tooth or the back tooth has been replaced here at GeeTee Dental but nonetheless, it costs more than a root canal therapy

Time or healing period of a Root Canal Vs Dental Implant:

Start to finish, Root canal therapy would on average vary from 1 day to 3 weeks to be completed as the case may be. In fact, most patients are able to fully recover after just a couple of days. A dental implant on the other hand takes on average 3-6 months for the implant to completely heal and be restored.

What are the possible complications associated with a root canal vs Dental Implant?

infected tooth cut in half root canal illustration

Like anything in life, there are pros and cons understanding the possible side effects and complications that could result from either getting an implant or a root canal can also help you decide which is best for you if you have to decide between a dental implant vs root canal

Root canal possible complication

  • Dental tools might break off inside the canals

The fine metal files used to clean inside the root canals may break during use and remain in the tooth and the tooth may need to be removed in worst-case scenarios.

fractures instruments inside a root canal pulp chamber

  • Paraesthesia or Numbness

Paraesthesia, the numbness of the surrounding area, has been known to occur with a small percentage of patients. The material used to fill the root canal could move outside of the perimeter of its intended placement. If this were to happen, there is the chance it would cause inflammation in nearby nerves and cause numbness or paresthesia.

  • Sinus congestion

 A fairly common risk with root canals is that they can cause problems with your sinuses. This is because, in some circumstances, liquid in your jaw can leak slightly through the membranes in your nose because your root canal and sinus cavity are practically neighbors. If this happens, it can lead to inflammation in the sinus cavities hence causing irritation with headaches and congestion.

  • Recurrence of an infection

re infection after root canal illustration

New infections might happen even after a root canal therapy has been completed. Infections can result from bacteria entering the tooth and soft tissue during the treatment or if the seal on the tooth is incomplete or worn out.

Dental Implant possible complications

  • Implant Breakage or Fracture

dental implant breakage mechanical failure

Breakage or fracture of the dental implant screw is also a possible complication that often arises due to mechanical failure of the Implant. It can occasionally be salvaged with the removal of the screw and replacement of the dental implant, but the remaining bone may not be strong enough to support a new implant in some cases. This is however very rare. GeeTee Dental uses state of the art Dental Implants from reputable Manufacturers to prevent against mechanical failure.

  • Allergic reaction

You may develop a reaction if you’re allergic to titanium alloy, a metal in some dental implants. Symptoms of an allergy include swelling, loss of taste, and perhaps a tingling sensation. Mention a titanium allergy to your oral surgeon. You’ll need an implant that contains a different material.

  • Infection at the implant site

An infection can develop during or after surgery. Risk factors for infection include having an autoimmune disease, smoking, and bad oral hygiene.

  • Injury to adjacent teeth

Damage to teeth adjacent to the implant site may occur subsequent to the insertion of implants along an improper axis or after the placement of excessively large implants. The damage of an adjacent tooth by implant placement may cause the tooth to become non-vital, and the tooth may require subsequent endodontic treatment. This will not only result in damage to an adjacent tooth but also implant failure. The use of a surgical guide, radiographic analysis, and CT scan can help locate the implant placement, thereby avoiding damage to adjacent teeth. GeeTee Dental center is fully equipped with CT scans and we utilize radiographic analysis before our implant placements. (read more🙂

Aftercare of a Dental Implant vs Root Canal

You essentially care for your Dental implant and your root canal-treated tooth the same way you would your natural tooth. Brush your teeth and floss regularly. This will keep the implant or root canal treated tooth clean and hence increase the lifespan.

What is the Average Lifespan of a Root canal vs Dental Implant?

Dental Implant success and life span

Implant studies frequently reported outcome rates exceeding 95%. Meta-analyses found success rates of 96.7% to 97.5% for single-unit restorations and 92.5% to 93.6% for fixed partial restorations over 6 to 7 years (source). A large-scale study described cumulative survival rates of 92% for 13,049 two-stage implants over 15 years and 85% for 5,515 one-stage surgery implants over 10 years, including early failures 

Root canal Success rate and life span

Endodontic treatment has a high success rate and many root canal-treated teeth when completed thoroughly and the tooth is restored properly can last a long time or even a lifetime as the condition may warrant. The average lifespan of a root canal therapy however is a hard call for any Dentist as there just aren’t enough recent studies over a long period of time around this specific issue. A University of Toronto Research Study in 2003 showed that the success (or “healed”) rate for 450 treated teeth was 81% at 6 years post-treatment. Unfortunately, studies following root canal-treated teeth for more than 10 years are almost non-existent. However, some do exist showing a 75-80% success rate even at 10 years. (source)

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