Should I save my tooth or pull it?

I hear this question every day in my dental office. Unfortunately, many times the patient is in pain and wants immediate relief. The quickest and “cheapest” way to get out of pain is to pull the tooth.
The problem always arises when the patient eventually asks, “How can I replace the tooth so I don’t see the black gap in my smile?” At this point, the answer is slightly more complicated. There are options that involve a removable tooth or a non-removable tooth.
The removable tooth is called a flipper and varies in size but usually is not tolerated well if only replacing one tooth because of the size it needs to be to be strong enough to maintain biting forces. The non-removable tooth can be an implant or a bridge. Both of these choices are more like having a natural tooth.
The bridge advantage is that it can be done quicker. And if the teeth on either side of the space are weak, the bridge will strengthen those teeth. So by filling the space, you have actually improved the overall strength on that side of your mouth. But a disadvantage if the teeth on either side are not weak, then I will have to drill them. And that is done all the time, but now that we have implant therapy, there is an alternative to drilling on good teeth.
An implant to fill a gap is most often ideal. It replaces a single lost tooth with a single implant tooth. Although, implants are not as good as natural teeth they are the best we have at this point in time. Implants can have disadvantages. If a person has lost too much bone then bone must be replaced to get an implant. That additional procedure can be more complicated if it involves the sinus area so the cost can be significant to add and grow new bone. Since implant therapy is an invasive dental surgery, similar to an extraction, the health of the patient matters more. Some medical and habitual conditions affect the healing potential of new bone growth and implant healing. Smoking and diabetes are the two main health issues that cause more risk to implant failure. Although many other conditions are important as well, so a complete medical review and clearance from your Physician is warranted in some situations.
The moral of this story is that making decisions while in pain may result in a more expensive dental procedure to undo what was done to alleviate the immediate concern of pain. The best option is always to maintain good dental hygiene and go to regular dental visits and do the preemptive work before it turns into a painful situation that will lead to poor decisions made from a painful situation.
Feel free to contact my office for a free consultation on this or any dental topic. Call 302-999-8113