When a tooth is damaged or has suffered deep decay, dental implants and crowns are two possible restoration options. Crowns and implants are also very different solutions, each with their own set of pros and cons. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is a Dental Implant?
Dental implants are usually the preferred restorative solution when a tooth needs to be extracted because it is too damaged to be preserved. Implants are the only dental restoration that replaces the entire tooth, including the root, which is why dentists recommend them above other options. Replacing the root preserves the jawbone, keeping your bite strong and preventing facial collapse, which causes a prematurely aged appearance.
Dental implants are small fixtures that are surgically implanted into the jawbone. A crown, denture, or bridge is attached to the implants, and a piece called an abutment may be used to connect the two. Both function and aesthetics are completely restored with dental implants.
Pros and Cons of Dental Implants
You still have your natural tooth in place if you're deciding between a dental implant and a crown, but it's likely been damaged. Here’s what to consider when deciding whether to replace a tooth with an implant or restore it with a crown.
Con: You will need your tooth extracted first.
Dental implants are used to replace a missing tooth, which means your tooth will need to be extracted. Dentists prefer to take a conservative approach and save your natural teeth whenever possible, so we generally don't consider implants unless a tooth can't be saved.
Pro: A dental implant is a permanent solution.
Dental implants can last a lifetime if properly cared for, although the restorations that attach to them will need more frequent replacement.
Con: Dental implants are expensive.
Dental implants are a significant financial expense. If you still have your tooth, insurance is unlikely to cover an implant over a crown, especially if there is a chance that the tooth can be preserved.
What Is a Dental Crown?
Dental crowns are used to restore teeth that are damaged above the gum line. The damaged tooth structure is removed, then a crown is placed to protect the remaining tooth from further damage, infection, or injury. Crowns are made of metal alloy, gold alloy, or tooth-colored materials and are bonded to your tooth.
Pros and Cons of Dental Crowns
For decades, dental crowns have been the standard treatment for teeth with extensive decay or damage. Here are some things to think about when it comes to crowns.
Pro: Treatment is less invasive.
Unlike a dental implant, you won't have to have your tooth pulled. Getting a crown is an easier and less time-consuming procedure that doesn't require oral surgery.
Con: Crowns need replacement.
Crowns, unlike dental implants, are not permanent. You'll have to replace them from time to time.
Pro: At least part of your natural tooth is retained with a crown.
This is the best case scenario for your oral health. Dental implants are safe and effective, but they are not risk-free. You don't have to go through the long healing period, potential bone grafting, complication and infection risk, and so on if the root of your tooth doesn't need to be replaced.
Pro: Crowns are affordable.
If you have dental insurance, crowns are likely to be covered.
Dental Implant vs. Crown: The Bottom Line
While we can discuss our thoughts on the pros and cons of crowns and implants in this article, the only way to know which is best for your needs is to meet with you at our office. Once we've evaluated the health of your tooth, we'll be able to determine whether it's worth preserving with a dental crown or if you'd be better off having it extracted and then replaced with a dental implant.