Saving Teeth or Placing Implants: Dental Decision Making

When faced with a dental dilemma, whether to save a natural tooth or opt for a dental implant, it is important to weigh various factors before making a decision. The condition of the tooth, overall oral health, personal preferences, and other considerations come into play. In this article, we will explore the benefits of saving a natural tooth and getting a dental implant, along with factors to consider when making this important choice. Additionally, we will emphasise the importance of regular dental hygiene regardless of the chosen option.

Initial Considerations:

Tooth Condition:

The current condition of the natural tooth is a crucial factor to consider. If the tooth can be saved through root canal therapy and restored to its functional state, it may be a favorable option. However, if the tooth is severely damaged or compromised, it may not be a viable choice.

Gum Health:

The health of the gums surrounding the tooth is essential for long-term dental health. If the gums are relatively healthy and can support the natural tooth, saving it may be a suitable course of action. On the other hand, if the gums are diseased or the tooth’s condition is adversely affecting gum health, alternative options such as dental implants may be more appropriate.

Overall Well-being:

Consideration should be given to the patient’s overall well-being. Factors such as systemic health conditions, immune system strength, and susceptibility to oral infections should be evaluated. Saving a natural tooth may be preferred if it aligns with the patient’s overall health goals and has no adverse impact on their well-being.

Benefits of Saving a Natural Tooth:

Natural Look and Feel:

There is nothing quite like the appearance, feel, and placement of a natural tooth. Saving a natural tooth allows for better alignment, preserving a natural bite, and reducing the likelihood of abnormal wear that could damage other teeth over time.

Less Invasive Procedure:

Compared to dental implant surgery, root canal therapy used to save a natural tooth is generally less invasive and less painful. It involves removing infected or damaged tissue from the tooth’s root canal, preserving the remaining healthy structure.


Saving a natural tooth through root canal therapy is often a more cost-effective option when compared to getting a dental implant. Dental implants can be expensive, and the total cost may vary depending on factors such as the number of teeth being replaced, the implant’s location, and the need for additional procedures.

Benefits of Dental Implants:

Long-Term Survival Rate:

Dental implants have shown a high long-term survival rate in multiple clinical studies. With proper care and maintenance, they can last for many years, providing a reliable tooth replacement solution.

Function and Appearance:

Implants closely resemble natural teeth in both function and appearance, offering a natural-looking smile and restoring proper chewing and speaking abilities. They can significantly enhance the overall oral health and quality of life for individuals with missing teeth.


In cases where attempting to save a natural tooth has a low chance of success, dental implants offer a more predictable option. The success rate of dental implants is generally high, providing a stable and long-lasting solution.

Factors to Consider:

Time frame:

The implant process typically takes several months to over a year, including the healing period and the placement of the permanent crown. On the other hand, root canal therapy can often be completed in a shorter time frame, allowing for a faster resolution.


Dental implants are generally more expensive than root canal therapy. The total cost varies depending on the specific case and any additional procedures required. It is essential to consider the financial implications and potential insurance coverage.

Success Rate:

Root canal therapy has a high success rate of 95-97% over many years. However, there is still a small chance of failure. Dental implants also have a high success rate, but occasional implant failures can occur, necessitating additional procedures for correction.

Maintaining Good Dental Hygiene:

Regardless of the chosen option, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of regular dental hygiene. Seeing a dental hygienist regularly, in addition to proper at-home oral care, helps maintain good dental health. Regular check-ups, professional cleanings, and preventive measures are vital to prevent future dental issues and ensure long-term oral health.


Choosing between saving a natural tooth or getting a dental implant is a decision that requires careful consideration of various factors. The benefits of saving a natural tooth include its natural look, less invasive procedure, and cost-effectiveness. On the other hand, dental implants offer a high long-term survival rate, natural function and appearance, and predictability. Consulting with a dental professional is essential to receive personalized recommendations based on individual oral health, preferences, and budget. Regardless of the chosen option, maintaining regular dental hygiene by seeing a dental hygienist and practicing good oral care at home is crucial for long-lasting dental health.

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