Every individual tooth is a living thing, full of nerves and blood vessels. When a tooth is decayed so severely that it is dying, the traditional method for saving it is a root canal. Today, the availability of dental implants gives patients another option for treatment of a dying tooth. Instead of undergoing root canal, the tooth can be extracted and replaced with a dental implant, as compared to a removable false tooth as in the past.
Root canal is often referred to as “saving a tooth,” but in actuality, a tooth that has been treated with root canal is dead. Root canal involves entering the chamber of the tooth and removing all the dead and dying tissue, and along with it, any remaining living tissue. The entire area is cleaned out and then filled with artificial material. Usually, the final step is to attach a crown to the outer tooth to stabilize it and cover the hole that was drilled into the tooth get inside of it. After a root canal the tooth has not actually been saved, but replaced with mostly artificial material. The tooth will, however, function normally, and it is possible that it can last a lifetime. Sometimes teeth that are treated with root canal develop further problems and eventually have to be extracted anyway.
Extracting a still living but dying tooth removes all dead tissues and leaves nothing behind but a clean, open space. Replacement with a dental implant involves a surgical procedure to implant a metal post into the gums, and then attach an artificial tooth to the post. The result is a completely artificial tooth that functions virtually as well as a natural healthy tooth. Implants are not guaranteed to be successful, however, and the body may reject them, though this is rare. The success rate of both root canal and dental implants is about the same.
There is some concern in the dental community that root canal, which leaves behind a dead tooth, can lead to health issues due to bacteria that inevitably enters the tooth during the procedure. Because the tooth is dead, these bacteria can easily breed and spread throughout the body. Extraction of a diseased tooth leaves nothing behind, and may be considered a healthier method of dealing with a diseased tooth.
Make an appointment with your dentist today to see if dental implants are right for you!