Problem Teeth – is extraction the best option?
Do you have problem teeth? Many decades ago, patients were encouraged to consider extraction as a long-term solution to problem teeth, but this philosophy has been considered out-of-date for 50 years or more and these days dentists would prefer to do anything to help their patients hang on to their own dentition for as long as possible!
Problem Teeth – Avoid Extraction with New Technologies
Of course, the final decision is down to the patient and there are many factors to consider. Some confess that their worst nightmare is having to lose one of their teeth and, especially in these cases, every effort is made to keep it. Modern techniques have resulted in a far better chance of retaining the tooth for many years, however it does also depend on who performs the treatment. As patients’ expectations increase and dentistry and training evolve, many different specialities have been recognised. It makes sense that an endodontist (root canal specialist) enjoys a success rate of around 95-98 per cent, whereas studies indicate that for a general practitioner it is around 80-85 per cent.
Unfortunately in nature nothing carries a total guarantee and if you are unlucky enough to be in the small percentage that does not succeed, other treatments may be available to try to save the tooth.
The consequences of an extraction depends on the tooth in question, as not every tooth has the same importance. For example, when it comes to problem teeth, losing a lower back tooth will be a lot less traumatic for most patients than an upper front one, due to the major change in appearance.
Your occlusion or bite can also be significantly affected. Most patients will adapt and manage to retain a normal diet if they lose one or several of their molars, but if there are multiple spaces, problem teeth are most unwelcome as the function can become a problem.
Additionally, the loss of even a single opposing tooth may mean over time that the tooth directly below or above the space can grow into the space and become unstable. This may even – in worst case scenarios – result in the eventual loss of this tooth as well. As teeth drift, spaces will open between them and these can trap food, making it difficult to maintain effective oral hygiene and lead to problems of dental decay and gum disease. In situations like this it is always best to keep your own teeth to maintain correct positioning and prevent subsequent movement of adjacent and opposing teeth. Root canal treatment may allow you to do this. However, if you do decide to extract the tooth then it may be better to not leave the space but to fill the gap with either an implant or bridge.