The Extraction Detraction
Dentists hear it all too often; a patient calls in with tooth pain and says “I just want it extracted”. There are times when a tooth needs to be removed, but often, extractions are not the best answer. Here’s some reasons why you should reconsider that knee-jerk reaction to go for the extraction.
Natural Teeth are Best
Dentists always prefer to keep your natural tooth whenever possible, and for good reason. Your teeth are evolutionary marvels, designed by nature to do exactly what you need them to do – and do it well. No replacement option is ever as effective or comfortable as a natural, healthy tooth. Because of this, whenever it is possible to restore the tooth through a procedure (filling, root canal or crown) doctors will always recommend that option first. The apparent drawback to these procedures is that they sometimes are more expensive and more time consuming than an extraction. Sticker shock or the desire to get out of pain can cause patients to jump right to choosing an extraction without considering any restorative options first. Trust your doctor to make recommendations based on what’s best for you and your oral health.
Replacement is Necessary
Just one missing tooth can create a whole slew of problems for the rest of your mouth. Besides being cosmetically unappealing (no one likes having a big gap in their smile), a missing tooth causes functionality issues as well. Your teeth are designed to contact one another to effectively tear, crush and mash your food. When you are missing a tooth, especially a molar, you lose the use of not one, but two teeth. The tooth opposite the extracted tooth has now become obsolete because it has nothing to crush against. Eventually, this lonely tooth will move out of its proper position in the jaw because there is nothing keeping it in place. The teeth in front of and behind the missing tooth now have an open space to shift into as well. In most cases, a bridge or implant to replace a missing tooth can be three to five times more expensive than a restorative procedure.
No Tooth, No Bone
When there is no tooth structure to help support the bone in your jaw, the bone will begin to recede and this causes greater problems for your whole mouth. Bone loss can begin to affect your remaining teeth and not enough bone in the area of the missing tooth can make implant placement difficult, if not impossible.
The healing process after a tooth extraction can require more home care than other procedures. After an extraction, your tissues and bone take time to heal and need to be undisturbed as much as possible. Smokers have a hard time healing from extractions because smoking can dislodge blood clots that form to heal the extraction site. There’s also some limitations for lifting, bending and exercising.
Sometimes, an extraction is the right option. Be sure to discuss all your options with your dentist and make sure you feel comfortable with the course of treatment before jumping in the chair.
This article was submitted by Dr. Matthew Larsen of Yellowstone Family Dental at our request. It is not a “paid for” article nor was it run in exchange for advertising. See “Our Content Submission Policy” infographic to the right.
About the Author: Dr. Larsen grew up on a ranch in northern Utah. He received his Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) from the University of Saskatchewan in 2003 before beginning his dental career here in Billings, Montana. He and his wife have three boys and one girl. He loves hiking, fishing, camping, skiing, and four wheeling. He also likes to play basketball, read, watch movies, and keep up to date on new technology gadgets when he isn’t involved in a home improvement project or manicuring the lawn.