Tooth loss can be frightening. The loss of a tooth—or teeth—can not only change your facial appearance, which may impact self-esteem, but it can also cause the surrounding teeth to shift. This shifting of teeth can increase the chances of gum disease and bone and tissue loss and also change your bite pattern. A change in bite pattern can lead to uneven wear on other teeth and even painful issues with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Tooth loss can also result in problems eating certain foods that may cause you to avoid a healthier diet consisting of fiber, fruits, and vegetables, which can impact your health in a myriad of ways.
Some patients who are facing the potential loss of a tooth due to decay or infection simply choose to have it extracted and replaced with a dental implant. Dental implants have many benefits, including durability and their ability to mimic the look of a natural tooth. However, there are more things to consider about replacing a natural tooth with an implant than aesthetics. This article will help you sort through your options and choose the one that is the best choice for your oral and overall health.
If you are experiencing an infection resulting from tooth decay or your teeth are fractured or damaged in some way, you may be considering how to repair the damaged tooth. Modern dental technology provides several options, each with pros and cons.
Instead of restoring your natural tooth, this option would have you go through the process of receiving a dental implant. Dental implant procedures begin with the extraction of the tooth, which depending on the type and location of the tooth, can carry with it some risk to the surrounding bone and facial structure and nerves. Immediately following the extraction, the socket is often then grafted with bone to aid in bony regeneration.
After a 3–6-month healing period following the extraction, you will be fitted with a titanium implant that is placed into the bone of your jaw. Occasionally, additional bone grafting will be needed if there is not enough bone present, or bony regeneration was not adequate. For some people, a surgery called a sinus lift or sinus augmentation is necessary to make room for the bone needed for implants. Possible complications following surgery include pain and swelling that can last for days after the procedure. After the implant is placed, you will spend several months waiting for the area to heal, after which the permanent crown will be screwed onto the titanium post and the implant will be complete.
The downsides of implants include:
Root canal therapy is a less invasive, less painful way of managing damaged teeth than implants. During a root canal, unhealthy pulp will be removed from the root of the tooth through a small opening in the crown of the tooth. After a thorough cleaning, the root cavity will be filled with a biocompatible material called gutta percha to preserve the health of the tooth by preventing further infection. This procedure can be easily accomplished in your endodontist’s office using just local anesthesia.
After the root canal is complete, your tooth will be sealed with a temporary filling to keep it protected while your permanent crown is being created. Your dentist will take molds of your tooth to ensure your restoration protects and restores your tooth to full function. When your crown is ready, the temporary filling will be removed and the crown placed, preserving as much of your natural tooth as possible. While root canals have a 95–97% success rate over many years, it is important to keep in mind that there is still a 3–5% chance of failure.
If you’re considering getting a dental implant but are still on the fence about it, a root canal is a good option that can buy you some time. It will allow you to save your natural tooth for as long as possible, even if it’s only for a few extra years. This does mean that you may have to revisit this at a later point and discuss plans for an extraction and implant.
The benefits of saving your natural teeth are significant since nothing can perfectly match the look, feel, and placement of a natural tooth. Extracting teeth is often a painful procedure and replacing them with implants is not only extremely expensive, but this option also requires surgery and frequent visits to your dentist.
Endodontists are experts at helping dental patients save their natural teeth. Today’s endodontic technology allows for nearly painless treatment of infected or damaged teeth with root canal therapy, which typically results in less pain than tooth extraction. Root canals are also much less expensive and invasive than dental implants and allow you to keep your natural tooth in its proper place, allowing for better alignment for a natural bite and less chance of abnormal wear that can damage other teeth over time.
At Renovo Endodontic Studio, we know that the possibility of losing a tooth—or teeth—can be a frightening thing. And we also know that you have many choices when it comes to tooth restoration, which can be difficult to fully understand. If you are suffering from tooth infection, pain, or damaged teeth, you should seek treatment right away. Acting quickly can help preserve your natural smile and ensure that you have the option of more minimally invasive procedures such as root canals. Our staff of experts at Renovo Endodontic Studio can examine your problem teeth and help you decide which restoration option will provide the most benefit for your oral—and overall—health.