If you have a tooth or teeth that are in danger of being lost, you have to make a hard decision. Should you continue to invest time, money, and grief in trying to save that tooth, or is it better to remove the tooth and replace it with a dental implant?
This is the hardest decision in reconstructive dentistry, and there’s no way to make this decision without consulting with dentists, but here are some things to consider.
Periodontally Threatened Teeth
The most common reason why adults lose teeth in the US is gum disease. This is when bacteria infect your gums (and, incidentally, your entire body), causing damage to the structures that support the teeth.
In this case, it’s usually a good idea to try to save the tooth or teeth, if possible. Gum disease treatment is relatively inexpensive, has a high degree of success, and can preserve your teeth for a lifetime. On top of that, we would want to treat your gum disease before placing a dental implant, anyway, so it makes sense to try to save the teeth if we can.
Decay Threatened Teeth
If your teeth have experienced extreme decay, they may be severely weakened by the loss of dental material. They may even be threatening your health due to infection. But in many cases, these teeth can be saved.
Dental crowns can reinforce a severely damaged tooth. And root canals are very successful at preserving infected teeth. These teeth can last for decades with their restorations. And you preserve the option of dental implants for the future.
But there are some situations where we can’t use a dental crown or root canal to preserve a tooth. If, for example, the tooth is too decayed to support a crown, we may have to recommend it be removed. And if the tooth root is damaged, we will almost always recommend it be removed.
Always Get a Second Opinion
Whether to replace a tooth or maintain it is always a judgment call on the part of the dentist. You will want to hear what different dentists say about the decision to better understand the benefits and limits of each option.