Which Is Better: Root Canal or Implant? Making an Informed Dental Decision

Are you faced with a dental dilemma? The choice between a root canal and a dental implant can be perplexing, with factors like longevity and effectiveness weighing heavily on your decision. 


In this article, we delve into the debate to help you make an informed choice about which option is better for you. Discover the key differences between root canal treatment and dental implants, their benefits and potential limitations, and the impact they can have on your oral health. 


Understanding Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment involves the removal of infected or damaged dental pulp from the interior of a tooth and sealing the root canals. Here’s a breakdown of the procedure:


  • Diagnosis and Preparation: Your dentist will examine your tooth and may use X-rays to determine the extent of the infection or damage. They will administer local anesthesia to ensure a painless procedure.
  • Accessing the Pulp: A small opening is created in the tooth, allowing the dentist to access the infected or damaged pulp.
  • Pulp Removal: The infected or damaged pulp is carefully removed using specialized dental instruments. The interior of the tooth is then cleaned and disinfected to eliminate bacteria.
  • Sealing the Root Canals: After the pulp is removed, the root canals are shaped, filled with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha, and sealed to prevent reinfection.

The primary purpose of a root canal treatment is to salvage the natural tooth structure, prevent tooth loss, and alleviate pain or discomfort associated with the infection.


Benefits of Root Canal

Root canal treatment offers several advantages that make it a preferred option for many individuals:


  • Preservation of Natural Tooth Structure: Unlike tooth extraction, a root canal allows you to retain your natural tooth. Preserving the tooth’s structure helps maintain proper alignment and prevents adjacent teeth from shifting.
  • Maintained Functionality: By eliminating the infection and sealing the tooth, a root canal enables you to maintain normal biting and chewing capabilities.
  • Preservation of Appearance: After a root canal, the tooth can be restored with a dental crown, which not only strengthens the tooth but also maintains its natural appearance, ensuring a seamless smile.

Limitations and Potential Issues

While root canal treatment is generally successful, there are a few limitations and potential issues to be aware of:


  • Retreatment or Extraction: In some cases, a root canal treatment may not completely resolve the infection, leading to the need for retreatment or tooth extraction.
  • Potential Lifespan: The longevity of a root canal and crown can vary from five to 15 years or more, depending on factors such as oral hygiene practices, regular dental care, and the overall condition of the tooth.

It is essential to consult with a dental professional who can evaluate your specific situation and determine the most suitable treatment plan for your oral health needs.


Understanding Dental Implants

Dental implants are artificial tooth roots made of biocompatible materials, typically titanium, which are surgically placed in the jawbone to support a prosthetic crown. Here’s a breakdown of the procedure:


  • Initial Assessment and Planning: Your dentist will conduct a comprehensive evaluation, including X-rays and impressions, to assess the condition of your jawbone and determine if you are a suitable candidate for dental implants.
  • Surgical Placement of the Implant: In a minor surgical procedure, the dental implant, resembling a small titanium post, is precisely positioned into the jawbone. Over time, the implant fuses with the surrounding bone through a process called osseointegration.
  • Healing Period: After implant placement, a healing period of a few months is typically required for osseointegration to take place. During this time, the implant becomes securely anchored in the jawbone.


  • Placement of the Prosthetic Crown: Once the implant has fully integrated with the jawbone, an abutment is attached to the implant, and a customized prosthetic crown is affixed to the abutment, restoring the appearance and functionality of the missing tooth.

Benefits of Dental Implants

Dental implants offer numerous advantages that contribute to their popularity as a tooth replacement option, including:


  • High Success Rates and Longevity: Dental implants have a high success rate and can last for several decades with proper care. They provide a durable and long-lasting solution for replacing missing teeth.
  • Excellent Functionality and Stability: Dental implants mimic the natural tooth structure, offering exceptional functionality and stability. They allow you to chew, bite, and speak with confidence, similar to your natural teeth.
  • Natural Appearance: With their natural-looking prosthetic crowns, dental implants seamlessly blend in with your existing teeth, providing an aesthetically pleasing smile.

Potential Considerations

While dental implants offer remarkable benefits, there are some factors to consider when contemplating this treatment option:


  • Healthy Jawbone and Oral Health: Dental implants require a healthy and adequate amount of jawbone to ensure successful implantation. If your jawbone density is insufficient, bone grafting may be necessary before the implant procedure.
  • Treatment Timeline and Cost: Compared to other tooth replacement options, dental implants typically involve a longer treatment timeline due to the healing period. Additionally, they may have a higher initial cost. However, their longevity and functional benefits often make them a worthwhile investment in the long run.

Comparing Root Canal and Dental Implants

When faced with the decision between a root canal and dental implants, it’s crucial to consider factors such as longevity, functionality, and individual circumstances.


Longevity and Success Rates


  • Dental Implants: Dental implants have impressive longevity with proper care and maintenance. They can last for several decades, providing a durable and reliable tooth replacement option.
  • Root Canal and Crown: While a root canal can save a tooth from extraction, the crown placed over the treated tooth may require replacement after five to 15 years. There is a possibility of the tooth failing or needing retreatment in the future.

It’s important to note that both treatments can be successful, but dental implants tend to have higher success rates compared to root canals, which may require retreatment in some cases.


Functionality and Aesthetics


  • Dental Implants: Dental implants offer excellent functionality and stability. They mimic the natural tooth structure, allowing for normal biting, chewing, and speaking. Furthermore, the prosthetic crown attached to the implant provides a natural appearance, seamlessly blending with the surrounding teeth.


  • Root Canal and Crown: A root canal treatment aims to preserve the natural tooth structure, maintaining functionality. However, the crown placed over the treated tooth may not provide the same level of stability as a dental implant. While it can restore the appearance of the tooth, it may not offer the same aesthetic outcome as an implant.

Considering both functionality and aesthetics, dental implants tend to offer a more comprehensive and satisfying result.


Individual Factors and Dental Consultation

When making a decision between a root canal and dental implants, it’s essential to consider individual circumstances and consult with a dental professional. Factors to consider include:


  • Overall Oral Health: The condition of your oral health, including gum health and adjacent teeth, may influence the suitability of each treatment option.
  • Bone Structure: Dental implants require a healthy jawbone for successful integration. If your jawbone lacks adequate density, bone grafting may be necessary.
  • Personal Preferences: Your personal preferences and priorities, such as longevity, appearance, and treatment timeline, should also be taken into account.

Consulting with a dental professional will provide you with personalized guidance and recommendations based on your specific needs, ensuring the most suitable treatment option for you.


At Burnaby Square Dental, our experienced team is dedicated to providing personalized care and guiding you towards the most suitable treatment option for your oral health needs.

With our state-of-the-art facilities and comprehensive dental services, we can assess your specific situation and help you make an informed decision. 


Whether you require a root canal to save a damaged tooth or are considering dental implants for a missing tooth, we are here to support you throughout the process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!