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When is it worthwhile to have a root canal vs dental implant?

Your smile is unique. At One The Gallery Oxford we offer a wide range of preventative and restorative treatments to help you keep your teeth healthy, looking good and functioning effectively. This includes endodontics if your teeth become infected. This is more commonly known as root canal treatment. Where it is not possible to save a tooth, we also offer tooth replacement options, such as dental implants.

Dentists will always strive to save a natural tooth, where possible. However sometimes this is not possible, for example, if infection has been left for a long time to decay the tooth or if the infection is too severe. In these cases tooth replacement options can fill the gaps in your smile.

Root Canal Treatment in Oxford


Each of your teeth is made up of several parts. The outer layer that gives your tooth its colour is the enamel – this is a hard coating on the tooth. This is where any bacteria will first begin to attack. Any damage to the enamel may have no symptoms, which is why we recommend regular hygiene and dental checkups.

Behind the enamel is the dentine layer, a spongy substance that makes up a lot of the tooth. If bacteria gets into this layer it is soaked up and starts to cause decay. This can lead to sensitivity. If decay in the dentine layer is left untreated the infection can spread to the dental pulp – the soft tissue at the centre of the tooth where the nerve tissue can also be found.

Infection in the dental pulp can cause the living tissues to die. As this happens any symptoms of pain whilst biting or chewing may actually start to subside. However this isn’t a good sign. The infection will move to the root canal where it causes a more serious issue. Symptoms of root canal infection can include facial swelling, discolouration of the tooth, swelling and even pus oozing from the infected tooth.


To deal with the infection, your dentist in Oxford will either perform root canal treatment or, if the infection is left too long, may have to remove the tooth.


Options for damaged teeth after root canal treatment in Oxford


In cases where decay and infection has caused the tooth to crack or break, there may still be an option to save the infected tooth with root canal treatment. Using specialised equipment and a microscope, an endodontist will clear out all the tissues inside the tooth and roots and flush it out with very strong antibiotic solution. The tooth will then be filled up with specific filling materials that give strength to the remaining tooth structures. Once this is complete, providing there is enough healthy tooth left, a crown can be placed on top of the tooth, saving the natural tooth.


Are dental implants a better option than a root canal treatment and a crown?


Dental implants are the best option for replacing missing teeth in Oxford or for teeth that cannot be saved with a root canal procedure. Replacing a tooth that has to be removed with a dental implant will not only close a gap in your smile but will also help maintain your natural teeth’s health, avoiding extra pressure or a change in bite.

However, dental implants are not a replacement for teeth that can be predictably repaired rather than replaced. Restoring damaged teeth with onlays, crowns and fillings are all ways of saving the natural tooth, which is preferable to removing the tooth, while it is still healthy.


How Likely is it that Root Canal Treatment will be successful?


Like with any dental treatment, the aftercare and maintenance of your smile is as important as the root canal procedure in ensuring the long term success of any treatment. The main risk with root canal treatment is of reinfection. That is why it is important to have a regular routine of brushing and flossing, combined with regular visits to the dentist and hygienist. Providing you follow the advice of your dentist you have a high chance of long term success from root canal treatment.


How likely is it that dental implant treatment will be successful?


As with root canal treatment, ongoing maintenance and dental care is vital for dental implant success long term. It is really important to keep the gum area healthy around the implant to avoid infection. There are a number of factors that can affect dental implant success:

  • Position of the implant – choose a specialist dentist in Oxford who has experience and training placing dental implants. The position of the implant can play a major part in ensuring long term maintenance and minimising complications later on.. A dentist with skill and expertise will reduce this risk dramatically by ensuring that the dental implant is placed in the most appropriate position for you.

  • Risk of infection – if the site around the implant gets infected this can cause dental implant failure, particularly if this infection is left to worsen without treatment. Regular checkups with your dentist and hygienist can pick up on any issues.

  • Mechanical complications – 1 in 3 dental implant cases will have a mechanical complication in the long term, which can be a simple replacement of a component or a more complex issue that needs replacement of the implant crown.  Although some of these are unavoidable, managing these mechanical complications can be very straightforward provided meticulous attention to detail is given to the treatment planning stage of treatment.


To find out more about how we can help improve your smile, or to book a hygiene appointment, get in touch with One The Gallery on 01865 256007 or click below to book an appointment