Root Canal Alternatives
Dental Bridge or Dental Implant
Getting the tooth removed is the only alternative for a tooth that requires root
canal therapy. But most times, having the tooth removed is not the best solution.
If you choose to have it removed, adjacent teeth to the missing tooth can shift
over time and misalign your bite, possibly developing jaw problems. You won’t be able to chew as well which could
result in stomach and digestive problems.
Missing front or premolar teeth can be seen when you open your mouth or smile
making you unattractive. There are reports of people that could not get a job because of missing teeth that show
when they smile.
So what are the root canal alternatives? You have two choices: (1) get the tooth
pulled and have a “ dental bridge” installed or (2) have a "dental implant”
A crown, sometimes called a ‘cap’, is a strong, protective covering for your
tooth made to look just like your real tooth. After a root canal, the tooth no longer has a blood supply. Over time
it becomes brittle and most dentists recommend a crown afterward to prevent fracturing and loss of the tooth,
especially your back or molar teeth which take the most pressure from chewing.
If you choose to have the tooth removed, a dental bridge may be required to
complete your bite or to restore your smile. A dental bridge is built by grinding down the two teeth on either side
of the space left by the pulled tooth, having crowns made for those two teeth with a fake crown attached in the
middle to fill the void left by the pulled tooth. This dental bridge, when installed, fills the area and makes it
look like you still have your tooth.
Cleaning of the dental bridge is harder than a natural tooth, since you now have
two teeth attached to one another by the fake one in the middle.
A dental bridge is expensive and is
charged by how many crowns it contains. Some dental bridges attach to one tooth on one side, and to two teeth on
the other to give it more stability. That would be a total of 4 crowns. Now, if crowns cost $1000 each, your total
would be $4000, plus the cost of having the tooth removed.
Another root canal alternative is to have the tooth removed and be replaced by a
dental implant. A dental implant consist of a dental screw that is placed into the bone at the site of the missing
tooth. A fake tooth (a crown) is attached to the screw after the area has healed completely.
This process for a dental implant takes approximately 6 months of healing
time to complete. It is also expensive, costing $3000+/- depending on the prices in your area. The advantages
of a dental implant are that they do not require any grinding down of other teeth (like a bridge does), can be
cleaned more easily than a bridge, and is the most like your real tooth.
A root canal and crown for a tooth can be the most economical way to go. If a
root canal costs $1000 and was crowned afterward for another $1000, your total would be $2000, and you would be
able to clean around the tooth just like a normal tooth creating much less chance of developing decay in the tooth.
(Yes, teeth can still develop decay after having a root canal and crown so cleaning them is still
If a tooth that is already crowned needs a root canal, it will be treated the
same as a regular tooth. A small opening will be drilled in the crown for the root canal and then filled with a
filling material afterward. The crown will not be quite as strong as it was before, but should still function
Your dentist cannot guarantee that the crown will not fracture during the
procedure, but the percentage that do is very small. If the crown is fractured, it will necessitate a replacement
crown for the tooth.
If a Endodontist performs your root canal, the opening in your tooth may be
filled with a temporary filling and you will need to return to your general dentist for the crown or crown
Over all, a root canal costs less than a dental bridge or dental implant. You
should research the alternatives to make an imformed decision.