Many adults are told by their dentist that their tooth (or teeth) can’t be saved, and an implant is their best option. They may come to see us for a second opinion, and we’ll disagree. While we believe implants are an excellent option, we think they should be used as a last option when a tooth can’t be saved.
Sometimes it’s the patient that likes the idea of having their damaged tooth extracted because it’s the fastest solution to the painful or annoying problem. Others prefer the implant option because it solves the problem of a damaged tooth and gives them an ideal looking tooth. But in many cases, the natural tooth can be saved, and it’s appearance improved.
Why Save your Natural Tooth?
We strongly believe that the best outcome is to preserve a natural tooth, if possible, for a few reasons. No matter how good implants are today, an implant will never feel or look exactly like your natural tooth.
Having a tooth pulled and thinking you don’t mind leaving a space can cause problems. Spaces often lead to other teeth shifting causing problems with chewing and changing the appearance of your smile. Missing teeth also leads to localised jawbone loss and some cosmetic and functional problems.
Tooth extraction may seem like the cheapest alternative, and it is in the short-term, but you should consider the long- term cost. If you want to fill the space left by the extracted tooth you’ll need an implant, partial denture or bridge and these can add up over the years particularly if they don’t last your lifetime.
How Can a Natural Tooth Be Saved?
Dentists and prosthodontists can use multiple techniques to save a damaged tooth/teeth including root canal, bridge or crowns.
Patients are often given the choice of root canal treatment or extraction. Root canal involves treating the inside (pulp) of the tooth that may be inflamed, infected or already dead. The pulp (“nerve“) is removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected to kill any remaining bacteria. Finally, the tooth is filled and sealed.
Full coverage crowns are a cap over the natural tooth to help support the tooth’s structure. The crown can give you back the ability to chew and protect the tooth from food getting stuck in the natural tooth and causing bacteria. A crown also gives you the cosmetic advantage of hiding a misshapen or chipped tooth. Sometimes a crown may be used to protect previous dental work such as teeth with root canals.
If you’re unhappy with the appearance of a tooth/teeth, there’s the option of retaining the natural tooth and covering it with a porcelain or composite resin veneer. This option retains the tooth and its root structure.
Give your Tooth a Second Opinion
Every natural tooth is worth assessing if it can be saved or at least a second opinion assessment. If you’ve been told by a dentist that your best or only option is to have a tooth pulled, take the time to hear from someone else. By visiting a prosthodontist, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you’re getting expert advice by a specialist. Remember it’s not just the fate of one tooth, it’s your oral health. Unlike dentists, we spend all our time working on damaged teeth or providing the best possible outcome for patients who have lost teeth. If you would like a second opinion about your tooth, call us on 9321 1632 or make an appointment online.