To Save a Tooth...
Every day, thousands of patients must decide what one of their own teeth is worth to them. When a tooth cracks or breaks, a decision must ultimately be made. Do we repair and salvage the damaged tooth or do we remove the tooth and consider replacement options?
When faced with this decision, there are a few questions to ask your dental team.
What is the prognosis to repair the injured tooth? Minor chips, cracks, trauma, and cavities are treated routinely in dental offices. Common procedures like fillings, onlays (partial caps) and crowns (caps) are predictable and have high success rates. When teeth are damaged more extensively, it is prudent to discuss long term chances for success with your dentist.
What condition are my other teeth in? It is always helpful to look at “the big picture” when deciding on how to treat a broken tooth. Conditions on adjacent teeth or in other areas of the mouth can affect success rates and future replacement options if a tooth cannot be saved. It is often helpful to discuss other dental findings before deciding to spend resources on a single tooth.
What are my costs to repair this tooth? Often, it is less expensive and less extensive to repair an existing tooth than it is to remove it. Extraction can be less expensive in the short term, but often causes more problems over time. Saving teeth is usually more cost effective than pulling and replacing them.
How long will treatment take? Time is a valuable commodity. Before choosing a course of action, it helps to understand how many visits and how long those dental visits will need to be.
What if I don’t do anything? No treatment or deferred treatment is always an option. Most of the time, putting things off today will lead to more complications, more pain, and bigger problems down the road.
If we have to remove a tooth, what can we do to replace it? Implants (titanium tooth roots) are awesome at replacing teeth. Unfortunately, dental implants usually cost more than saving the original tooth. Other forms of tooth replacement can be more affordable, but have pros and cons that should be discussed with your dentist.
Suffice to say, it is best to save and protect the teeth that God gave you.
Until next week, keep smiling.
-Please send questions or ideas to Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.