Best For Severely Damaged Tooth: Root Canal or Extraction-Implant?

Making A Decision of Saving

Studies have shown that a severely damaged or decayed tooth can still be salvaged with a carefully planned action. There are two options. Is it better to subject the damaged tooth to root canal treatment, or is removing it entirely by extraction followed by dental implantation better? What is the best decision?

A number of factors must be taken into account. Is the tooth salvageable? How about the esthetics? The cost-to-benefit ratio? This is according to an implant position statement from the American Association of Endodontics. But many experts believe that it’s better to save the damaged tooth if possible.

A severely damaged tooth can still be saved via the procedure of root canal. Root canal may prolong its usefulness and may delay or even remove the possibility of needing a  dental implant. According to a 2009 research, non-surgical endodontic treatment, like root canal, had very high success rates. The functionality of such treated teeth carry on for several years. A large study claimed that 94% of teeth are still functional three and a half years later after root canal.

Procedure Cost

Significantly lower in cost, a root canal procedure is better than extraction-implant, which may not be covered by insurance. A root canal coverage ranges from $250 to slightly over $1,600. Certain factors can impact the cost, such as the type of tooth affected, patient’s insurance plan and location, and the dental professional performing the procedure. Added to these is the need for a crown on top of the tooth. 

While simple tooth extraction is not expensive, surgical extraction is. This and even just one dental implant can cost at least $4,000 to $10,500, depending on the patient’s specific situation.Surgical extraction will also require anesthesia, both intravenous and local anesthesia adding to the cost.

On the other hand, compared to the implant procedure, root canal is over much faster, probably in a week including going back to the dentist for the crown fitting. The extraction-implant process can take several months. Likewise, the recovery period for root canal is shorter, just a matter of days. Compared to extraction-implant, the healing and osteointegration take months.

Other factors can affect the success of the extraction-implant option. In a 2009 published research, smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to experience failure of an implant. And a 2005 clinical study suggested that both tobacco and alcohol use can have a negative effect on implant outcomes, causing bone loss. 


Are there risks when root canal is opted over extraction-implant?

One of them is that a root canal might weaken the tooth that is already severely damaged. Another is that the affected tooth may fail anyway after the root canal.