Having trouble with a tooth and considering tooth replacement? Before you start pulling teeth, consider saving your tooth.
Over the lifetime of your teeth, you’ll likely encounter a few hiccups – from a cavity to a chipped tooth. But for some patients, these problems persist on the same tooth. No matter what they do, problems keep popping up and they have to pour more and more money into the tooth to save it.
At this point, the question comes up – should I save this tooth? This is an important conversation to have because there are a lot of nuances. And a tooth replacement, or implant, is not always the best option.
If you’re having recurrent issues with the same tooth, here are a few things to consider before throwing in the towel.
1. Your Age
When we have the conversation about when to save a tooth, many people ask why we can’t remove it and place an implant. The reason we don’t jump to this option is because an implant will last you 30 years, at best. If you’re younger than 60, it’s not a good idea to jump to an implant because it will not last your whole life.
If and when the implant fails, you will have to build new bone to place a second implant. This is very expensive and very risky. It also takes six months to a year to build the bone and place the implant. This is what we call heroic dentistry, which is difficult and a huge headache for the patient.
2. Previous treatments
There are several rounds of treatment that can be explored before removing a tooth. I like to say that a tooth has five lives. The first round of treatment is a filling, and when that fails you get a bigger filling. If the filling gets too close to the nerve, the third life is a root canal. And if the tooth cracks after the root canal, the fourth life is a crown. The fifth and final treatment option is a second root canal, which is used when the patient is experiencing sensitivity or pain.
Before considering a tooth replacement, it’s important to understand where you are on this treatment path. If you’re older than 60 and your tooth still has three lives left, I’d recommend saving the tooth. Even the last resort – the second root canal – when done properly is extremely effective and can buy you more time with your tooth.
3. Which tooth is having problems
If you really don’t want to save a tooth and are also not sure about a tooth replacement, there are a few teeth that you can do without. If it’s your wisdom tooth causing problems, let’s remove it. However, if it’s your six-year molar, you absolutely cannot do without these teeth and we will do everything we can to save them.
The 12-year molar can also be removed for some people. If you have a tough bite and need every molar you have to keep the force distributed when chewing, then I would not recommend removing the 12-year molar. However, if you have your four- and six-year molars in place you may be able to remove it.
If you find yourself questioning whether you should keep a tooth or remove it, it’s important to have an open dialogue with your dentist. Understand the risks of tooth replacement before you head down that path and learn what you can do to save a tooth.
If you’d like to go over your options, schedule an appointment at our office in Brandon, FL. We’ll be happy to go over your treatment options and create a plan that works for you.