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To Save (a tooth) or Not to Save...that is the question

When you have an infected or a diseased tooth, you may face several choices: saving the tooth or removing it. There are several factors that you should consider that can have consequences for years to come.

First, an important aspect to discuss with your dentist is whether the diseased tooth is salvageable, and if so, the likelihood that it will survive for many years. For example, let’s assume you have a diseased tooth with a very large cavity. Is this cavity above the bone or below it? Can you get a root canal? If you get a root canal, what are the chances of long term survival of the tooth? Meaning, if you invest money now, will you have a tooth 5-10 years from now or be facing tooth removal in a couple years?

Depending on these answers, you may choose to save the tooth with the required treatment, or you may find that the damage is too great and you would rather replace it with a dental implant.

Dental implants are the most advanced tooth replacement option available. They are very small metal implants with a porcelain tooth covering that allow you to eat, drink, and smile like you did with the natural tooth. They are easy to clean and maintain. Most patients who have dental implants don’t even realize they have it!

What other options are out there for tooth replacement?

You could consider a dental bridge, but there are several disadvantages. Firstly, bridges require teeth on either side of the missing tooth to be shaped for a crown. There will be a “floating” crown over the gap. This floating crown has to be flossed properly, or you risk getting cavities and losing the entire apparatus. For older or patients with arthritis, the dexterity required to clean the bridge can be challenging. This could lead to early failure.

Another option to consider is a removable appliance. These typically are not in favor by most patients anymore because they come in and out of the mouth. Most people like something fixed into place to feel more like natural teeth. The benefit of these appliances are they are relatively low cost, easy to maintain, and can be a treatment option for people who cannot undergo long dental appointments.

With proper oral hygiene and a healthy diet, your teeth should last your entire life, but dental disease can occur. If it does, ask some questions to gauge what’s the best treatment option for you. Want a second opinion or need to see a dentist about a painful tooth? Visit Dr. Singh at Smiletheory today.

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