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Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Dental and Oral Health Center
Implants vs. Root Canals
I had a root canal when I was eight years old, and it failed at age 36. I needed a second root canal and two crowns to keep the tooth that long. After it came out I had an implant. To my surprise, the implant procedure was a breeze; much easier than the root canals or extraction. If I end up needing another root canal, I`m thinking that I`d rather just get rid of the tooth and have an implant. Is that too drastic? I know it`s more expensive, but after all the maintenance I did to keep that tooth, I`d rather do it once and be done. What`s the current thought about implants?
Dental implants offer an important option for people to maintain the best oral health. When you had your root canal at age 8, dental implants were in very early stages of being introduced to the professional dental community and were not in widespread use. Even if they had been available, the treatment you got was the right one and would likely be the same an eight year old would have in our practice today. Implants are considered only after the bones have finished growing, about 16 to 18 for girls and 18 to 25 for boys.
Since 1982 there have been significant advances in dental implants and they are used with increasing frequency. While each person’s individual situation needs to be considered by a dentist who is experienced in placing and restoring implants, there are some important questions to consider in making a decision:
- If the tooth is kept intact with a root canal or other procedure;, how long can it be preserved? [A general guideline is that is that the tooth should be expected to last for at least five years]
- How many procedures will it take to preserve the tooth? [Having more procedures to save the tooth increases the risk of possible problems, and so there is more benefit in replacing that tooth with an implant.]
- How much of the tooth’s root is still intact? [If more root remains, the original tooth is likely to be more stable.}
- How much visible tooth is left? [The less damage there is, the more likely the tooth will have a better result and last a long time.]
If the original tooth structure is very stable with little work required to preserve it, it is likely to last for a long time with few complications. If damage to the tooth is more severe, the chances of having problems is increased and an implant would be the a better long-term solution. Each person’s situation is different so, if you’re making this decision in the future, these are some things to think about in talking with your dentist.
Lisa A Lang, DDS, MS
Associate Professor of Comprehensive Care
School of Dental Medicine
Case Western Reserve University