November 8, 2022

Things to Consider When Deciding Between a Tooth Implant & Root Canal


If your tooth becomes severely damaged or even infected, many different dental treatment plans are available. One is a root canal, and another is a dental extraction followed by an implant, an artificial tooth designed to replace your damaged tooth.

As experienced dentists here at the Next Smile Australia, we will discuss the best option for you. In the meantime, join us in this article to discover the most important factors to consider when deciding between a tooth implant or a root canal.

What is a Root Canal?

This dental procedure is usually carried out if there is an infection in the tooth’s centre. Infections can be caused by several reasons, which cause the bacteria in your mouth to attack the tooth. 

A single tooth may need a root canal due to gross decay or infection.

Your dentist may do an X-ray which will show the tooth has a bacterial infection, and the pulp nerve inside the tooth may be inflamed, which can cause the bacteria to spread. 

You might find the symptoms you have include pain if you bite or chew, hot or cold food can cause discomfort, or your tooth may feel loose. 

As the infection progresses, the symptoms usually appear to have disappeared, but the reality is that the infection will spread throughout the root canal system.

A root canal treatment involves drilling a hole into the tooth and removing the soft centre (dental pulp/nerve). After the pulp is removed, the space is filled and sealed. 

If the tooth is unsuitable for a root canal, then a single implant to replace the tooth is a good alternative. A crown is fitted onto the implant three months post-implant placement, as opposed to a dental bridge or partial denture. 

What is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is a long-term solution for teeth that are failing – or lost teeth. It is a more modern solution than traditional dentures, which must be removed when sleeping. 

A dental implant is a small screw made from titanium that is put into the jawbone and acts as a replacement for the tooth’s root. 

After it’s fitted, the bone surrounding the screw eventually fuses and prevents the implant from moving. After the recovery period, a false tooth is added to the top of the screw, which is usually similar in size, colour and shape to the rest of your teeth. 

So let’s now look at some factors to consider when deciding on either of these dental treatments.

root canal vs implant

Loss of teeth 

One of the main benefits of deciding whether a root canal or an implant will work best for you is that the tooth can usually be saved with a root canal. 

Keeping teeth is, of course, important to maintain a natural smile. Still, there could be complications following a root canal procedure, such as the onset of abscesses if, for instance, all of the infected pulp was not sufficiently removed. 

So it may be that even after having a root canal procedure, you may eventually need the tooth removed. 

Tooth damage 

It may also be that your tooth is already too damaged to perform a root canal procedure. Tooth decay may be so severe that the particular tooth won’t survive the treatment. This could mean you may ultimately need the tooth removed and may have to consider an implant. 

Bone atrophy 

If you are considering an implant, it’s worth understanding that often when teeth are removed, many people experience wasting of the bone around the side of an extraction. This is called bone atrophy. 

This can be made worse over time if you wear traditional dentures.

It could be that under the usual implant procedure, you would not be considered for conventional implants because of the condition of the bone around the site where your implant will be. 

For single dental implants, a simple bone graft can replace lost bone. For multiple tooth losses with bone atrophy, a full arch replacement using the All-on-4® treatment concept may be considered. For those with major bone atrophy, zygoma implants can be placed to support a full arch of teeth. 

root canal vs implant

Healing time 

As with any type of procedure, the time it takes to heal will be considered, especially when looking at root canal vs dental implants. 

With a traditional root canal, the healing time is relatively short, usually requiring a couple of dentist trips. But as mentioned previously, there is a risk you may ultimately need the tooth removed.

A traditional dental implant has a much longer recovery time. It’s also worth understanding that if time is a big issue for you, you will not have the crown fitted during the same appointment as the root implant.

It’s also important to understand what traditional implants can have. Very different lengths of healing time depend on each patient.

However, a single tooth implant could take as long as 6 to 12 weeks to heal. 

This is because of the time needed for the implant to fuse sufficiently to your jawbone and become strong enough for the artificial tooth to be fitted.

This could mean a considerable time with a gap in your teeth, which can make you feel very self-conscious during this time. 

For this reason, a root canal may be a better option if the tooth can be saved, given its much shorter recovery time. 

The All-on-4® treatment concept 

For patients who aren’t suitable for root canals or do not want the lengthy healing times associated with traditional implants. This advanced and innovative method means new teeth can be connected within only 24 hours of surgery. 

All-on-4® is for full arch replacement where there are many missing/damaged teeth that cannot be restored and are an alternative to dentures. 

Good general health

When deciding between a root canal or an implant procedure, your general health should be considered. 

Dental implants often use anesthesia, so your general health must be good. For instance, if you have untreated diabetes, have a history of gum disease, take anti-depressants, or are having radiation therapy around your jaw, it’s important to seek advice from your dentist. This is because there is a higher risk of implant failure. 

If you smoke, it’s advisable to stop before any kind of dental implant procedure and during recovery time. Smokers who opt for root canal dental treatment will find their mouth will still be numb following the procedure, so they should refrain completely from smoking as it can delay recovery. 

In Summary

If you are deciding between a root canal or a dental implant and want to know more about our groundbreaking All-on-4® treatment options, then we would love to see you at one of our information evenings at Next Smile Australia. 

Or, if you prefer, join us in a virtual online session or schedule a personal consultation to discover more.