As a general rule, we like to preserve your natural teeth as long as possible. Thanks to advanced reconstructive dentistry techniques, we can save more teeth than ever before. However, there may come a time when removing the tooth is the best thing we can do for your oral and overall health. Fortunately, in most cases you can then replace the lost tooth with a dental implant, which can look and function like a natural tooth.
But how do you decide whether to save a tooth or remove it? Here’s a brief guide to help you make the decision.
Can the Tooth Be Saved?
One of the first questions to ask is whether saving the tooth is really an option. While reconstructive dentistry can save many teeth, there are some things that are difficult or impossible to fix. One of the most common reasons we might not be able to save a tooth is that it has a crack or decay in the root. This is difficult, often impossible, to deal with.
Another situation that’s hard to overcome is when a tooth is infected inside and has lost extensive bone around it because of gum disease. Either case might be treatable, but when combined, the two can be very hard to deal with.
If a tooth can’t be saved, we will recommend removing it and replacing it with a dental implant.
Does the Tooth Put Other Teeth at Risk?
All the teeth in the mouth share the same space, so it’s common for bacteria to move from one part of the mouth to another. An infected tooth is a source of bacteria that can spread infection throughout your mouth.
While treating the tooth will reduce the amount of bacteria there, sometimes the best strategy for stopping infection is removing the tooth to facilitate cleaning and disinfection.
Does the Tooth Put Your Health at Risk?
The bacteria in your teeth are not just a danger to your other teeth, they’re a danger to your health, even your life.
Sometimes, infected teeth can be the jumping-off point for deadly secondary infections throughout the body. This can include pneumonia, sepsis, and infections of the brain and heart. If we see signs of these infections or think that they might start if we don’t remove the tooth right away.
In those cases, we will recommend removing the infected tooth.
Will Saving the Tooth Be Too Expensive, Time-Consuming, or Uncertain?
Sometimes we could technically save a tooth, but it wouldn’t be advisable. Sometimes, it might just be significantly more expensive to save a tooth. Other times, it might be too time consuming, with numerous appointments that could be long and involved.
And, of course, there’s the possibility that after all the expense and time we put into trying to save the tooth, it could fail. When we evaluate a tooth, we will let you know how likely it is that we’ll be able to save it. The numbers aren’t a guarantee, but they’ll give you an idea about how likely it is that you’ll put time and money into a tooth that will be lost anyway. If the odds are too low, you might decide not to risk it and skip right to replacing the tooth with a dental implant.
Should You Save Your Tooth?
Of course, the above are only general guidelines. The only way to know for sure if your tooth should be saved is to have it evaluated by a dentist. We can perform a comprehensive evaluation of your tooth and recommend either saving it or removing it. We also offer second opinions if you want to check the recommendation of another dentist.
To have a tooth evaluated in the Summerlin, please call (702) 873-0324 today for an appointment with reconstructive dentist Dr. James B. Polley.