Typically, we always want to save teeth that are decayed or damaged. There is no true substitute for your natural teeth, so we only remove them as a last resort. However, there are some circumstances in which we might decide together not to save your threatened tooth and talk about tooth replacement options such as dental implants or a dental bridge.
Low Odds of Success
One of the reasons why we might not want to try to save a tooth is if we know that the treatment has very low odds of success. Many times, root canal therapy and gum disease treatment are great techniques for saving threatened teeth. Overall, their success rate is comparable to dental implants.
But if your tooth is unlikely to be saved with the procedure, it doesn’t make sense to try. Instead, we can remove one or more teeth and move forward with tooth replacement.
It Threatens Other Teeth
Sometimes a tooth is so unhealthy, it threatens other teeth. A tooth that is badly infected either inside or in the gums around the tooth can serve as a harbor for oral bacteria. These bacteria can threaten your other teeth. They can also threaten dental implants and other restorations.
If this threat is imminent, it might be best to remove the tooth rather than try to save it.
It Threatens Your Health
Oral bacteria aren’t just a threat to your teeth, they’re a threat to your overall health. They can contribute to your risk of heart disease, pneumonia, and potentially deadly infections.
If this is the case, it might be smarter to remove the tooth–and the infection risk with it–rather than trying a treatment that would allow the infection to continue.
Treatment Is Invasive, Costly, or Time Consuming
Sometimes we might have reasonable odds of saving a tooth without threat to other teeth or to your health, but it’s still not worth it. In these cases, the treatment might be very invasive, involving surgery that you don’t want. It might also be expensive, costing significantly more than dental implants. Or maybe it takes too long, with numerous dental visits spread out over a long period of time.
In these cases, you might just decide that it’s better to get dental implants, which can be done easily, quickly, and potentially with lower cost.
Tooth Is Unattractive
Rarely, this might be a reason not to save a tooth. The reason why this is a rare consideration is not just that it’s only cosmetic. Instead, it’s important to remember that most treatments that can save your tooth will also improve the appearance of the tooth, typically by topping it with a porcelain crown.
But sometimes an unattractive tooth or teeth might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. On top of everything else, your tooth is unattractive, so why try to save it rather than getting a dental implant that will be healthy and attractive?
It’s Your Call
The decision to save a tooth or let it go is one of the hardest ones in dentistry. Ultimately, it’s a decision that will be left up to you. We will let you know about your treatment options, recommend the ones that we think are best, and tell you about all the benefits, costs, and risks associated with the treatments. But you are the one who will decide what treatment you ultimately get.
If you want to talk to a dentist in Westchester County about whether it’s better to save a tooth or replace it, please call (914) 526-2144 today for an appointment at Advanced Dentistry of Mohegan Lake.