Alternatives To Having A Tooth Extracted
Have you been experiencing pain in your teeth lately? When you have an aching tooth, one of the most common solutions provided is to have it extracted. This, however, is not your only option.
When it comes to dental health, saving the tooth is always a better option when possible. This is because natural teeth are generally stronger, easier to clean and function better than even the best implants or dentures. This article will go over the different options available as an alternative to having a tooth extracted.
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What are the effects of having an extraction?
Once a tooth is extracted, it leaves a gap, which can create problems. Other than affecting your overall image, the teeth next to the gap may start to lean or shift, which can, in turn, cause further problems, especially when replacing the missing tooth in the future. A missing tooth also interferes with your speech and may make it harder to chew food.
Why you may need a tooth extraction
While tooth extraction may make you feel a bit self-conscious, it may be necessary when the tooth in question is too damaged to save. Some instances when a tooth extraction is necessary include;
Tooth extraction may be necessary if you suffered severe trauma to your face that left you with a broken tooth. Additionally, if the gum area around the affected tooth has deteriorated so much that the gums or bone cannot maintain a healthy tooth, you may need to get the tooth extracted.
When tooth decay affects the pulp and the tooth is too broken down to perform root canal treatment, tooth extraction is inevitable. Left alone, the decay produces toxic bacteria that can cause an infection. Tooth extraction is recommended to stop the infection from spreading.
A failed root canal
A failed root canal treatment can cause a severe infection. It can be extremely painful and form an abscess. In such a case, tooth extraction is recommended to avoid further infection if re-root treatment is not possible.
In a case where the teeth are overcrowded, tooth extraction may be necessary to create space. It may also be recommended when the patient needs to undergo orthodontic treatment and there is no room for the teeth to move or realign.
Crooked teeth not only affect your smile but also make it harder to properly clean them. They may also affect your biting and chewing. If the tooth in question is completely out of line with the rest and the neighbouring teeth touch each other properly, your dentist may consider recommending an extraction. If orthodontics is a viable option, keeping the tooth is always preferable.
Related Reading: How to Straighten Teeth Without Braces
Tooth extraction alternatives
If the thought of having your tooth extracted doesn’t sit too well with you, there are other alternatives available to you that don’t involve losing a tooth. These include:
Root canal treatment
A root canal is a great alternative to save a tooth that has been damaged, diseased or has a dead pulp but is still viable to your mouth. A root canal is a space that runs in the centre of the tooth from the tip all the way to the root tip. This root canal is filled with pulp – the innermost layer of the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerve endings. The pulp provides healthy blood flow within the tooth but can become damaged if you develop a deep cavity or crack your tooth.
A root canal procedure involves drilling a hole into the centre of the tooth to remove the pulp. The dentist proceeds to widen the canal before permanently sealing it to the end of the root. At the end of this procedure, you may have a temporary or permanent filling with a crown being placed a few weeks later.
Apicoectomy is usually performed after a root canal treatment fails or in instances where re-root canal treatment is not possible. This procedure involves removing the affected tooth’s tip. The dental professional makes a small incision in the gum tissue to create an opening near the tooth root, enabling the removal of the root tip. The dentist then uses a specific filling material to close the end of the root canal.
Fillings help to restore the full health and function of a tooth when caries has not invaded the pulp chamber. The procedure involves removing the damaged or decayed parts, cleaning the holes and sealing them. This helps protect the inside of your tooth from decaying further. As a result, they preserve the tooth and improve the aesthetics of your natural smile.
A dental crown is highly recommended if the amount of tooth remaining above the gum line is sufficient. It provides an effective way to preserve your natural teeth as opposed to having them extracted when a simple filling is insufficient. A crown also restores the tooth’s function and aesthetic results.
Dentures allow you to keep part of your original tooth. They provide a cheaper and easier alternative. They are also the least invasive procedure of all the available options.
A dental implant is more of a replacement and less of an alternative for tooth extraction. This process involves having an artificial tooth inserted into the extraction site to replace your original tooth. Implants often look real, but your tooth will need to be extracted. They are a great option for people who have lost a tooth or more to an injury, periodontal disease or some other reason.
When should extractions be avoided?
Other than pulling wisdom teeth out and any other teeth deemed unsavable, tooth extraction should be avoided whenever necessary. If you can, go for other alternatives like the ones mentioned above. If possible, tooth extraction should be avoided when:
- The affected tooth is particularly difficult to remove and requires considerable bone removal as this predisposes you to a jaw fracture
- If a tooth extraction poses a great risk of causing nerve damage
- If your medical history shows that extractions leave you vulnerable to osteonecrosis or osteomyelitis. Both of these conditions prevent the socket from healing.
- If you have received radiation to the head and neck for treatment of cancer as it puts you at risk
- If you have leukaemia
If extraction is unavoidable, then it should only be conducted by an experienced surgeon to ensure minimum trauma.
If getting your tooth extracted doesn’t seem like a viable option for you, consult your dental professional on the possible alternatives for your case. After all, the goal of every dentist is to try to keep your original teeth unless the situation is dire.
Above all, the most effective way to prevent tooth extraction is by taking better care of your teeth. Tooth decay is the leading cause of tooth removal. To avoid this, brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day, avoid acidic and sugary foods and drinks and visit your dentist regularly for check-ups.
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