How, Why, and When to Avoid Tooth Extraction
Protect your smile from tooth loss.
The American Association of Endodontists surveyed millennials to discover their thoughts about preserving their natural tooth, and the results were quite interesting. While almost all surveyed agreed that saving their natural teeth was clearly important, nearly a quarter of the group ranked their natural teeth as the number 1 thing they’d save or maintain about their body as they age. The survey supported the idea that many adults are educated and aware of the importance of keeping their natural teeth and avoiding extractions.
Let’s dive into this a little more.
Why is it important to avoid tooth extraction?
Natural teeth are in all ways superior to any dental restoration, even dental implants. This is why dentists only recommend extractions as a last resort and why they go to great lengths to encourage their patients to take oral hygiene seriously.
Natural teeth are superior because they:
- Allow for a unique experience and feel when chewing.
- Help us speak and make sounds.
- Preserve our facial structure, including the jawline and cheek fullness.
- Have a beautifully natural look that can be easily enhanced with simple cosmetic services, like teeth whitening.
Preserving your natural teeth can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars when compared to the costs of extractions and dental restorations.
How can I prevent tooth loss from happening?
Here are five things you can do to effectively keep a healthy, full smile.
1. Perfect your daily oral hygiene routine.
The best way to avoid tooth extraction is to really polish your oral care habits and ensure you’re doing at least the minimum necessary to prevent gum disease and cavities.
- Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for a solid two minutes.
- Floss at least once a day, ideally before brushing and before bedtime.
- Use ADA-approved products or products recommended by your dentist.
- Scrape your tongue before brushing to remove bacteria.
Although optional, you can also upgrade to a water flosser and powered toothbrush. Don’t forget to get your kids involved in healthy dental care habits as soon as possible!
2. Don’t skip your checkups and cleanings.
Remember, even if your teeth feel fine, that doesn’t mean everything is fine. Tooth pain doesn’t develop until after the damage has already been done. Seeing your dentist biannually for preventive care stops plaque build-up and ensures if trouble is brewing, it will be taken care of before a toothache even occurs.
3. Eat a nutritious diet with minimal sugars and starches.
A healthy diet can do wonders for your oral health. Regardless of what specific diet you follow, aim to eat plenty of whole or minimally-processed foods and a variety of produce, and be mindful of how much sugar and how many starches you’re consuming. This includes natural sugars you might find in 100% fruit juices.
4. Follow through with recommended treatment ASAP.
When a tooth does have an issue, don’t postpone treatment. Decay can break down tooth enamel surprisingly quickly, while gum disease can evolve from mild gingivitis to periodontitis before you know it. Delaying treatment so long that an extraction is the only option when a root canal and crown may have been sufficient months earlier is a common situation seen by dentists.
5. Choose a natural restoration whenever possible.
Always opt for the minimally-invasive treatment available for your tooth, even if that means spending a little more. It’s always better to treat a tooth with a filling or dental crown and save the tooth versus extraction. Even though your insurance coverage may make an extraction less expensive than a crown, consider that it’ll cost you more in the future – whether that cost is needing a bone graft and implant or the physical cost of bone loss in the jaw.
When is tooth extraction the right choice?
Sometimes a tooth is so far gone that an extraction is the best option for protecting your oral health. Here are a few scenarios where dentists often recommend removing the tooth and following up with a restoration.
Your tooth is severely decayed and infected.
When a tooth has an infection or abscess due to severe decay, a root canal followed by a dental crown can sometimes be enough to save it. However, to save a tooth in this way, you need enough healthy tooth enamel left to support a crown. If your dentist determines that your tooth can’t support a crown, the only alternative is to remove the tooth completely.
Your tooth was knocked out or broken at the gum line.
If a knocked-out tooth is replaced very quickly, there is a good chance the bone will reattach to the tooth, but if too much time goes by, this window of opportunity closes. Sometimes, the body may reject it even if the tooth is replaced immediately or wasn’t completely knocked loose. In these situations, the only option is to remove the tooth.
This scenario also applies to teeth that broke at the gum line, leaving the tooth roots still in the jaw.
Your current crown or other restoration has failed.
Sometimes a tooth with a crown can become damaged or decay years after it was placed. If your crown or inlay/onlay has failed due to poor oral hygiene or an injury, it may not be able to be replaced due to weakened enamel. Removing the tooth is usually the better long-term solution versus risking another failed restoration.
What happens after my tooth extraction?
Great dentists know that extraction is only the first phase in treating a patient’s tooth. The second phase is replacing the extracted tooth with a restoration option that best meets the patient’s needs. As soon as Dr. Garcia determines that an extraction is necessary, she’ll discuss your options for filling the space before the tooth is even removed.
Dental bridges are a good choice, but we strongly encourage our patients to consider dental implants if they haven’t already. Dental implants are the only restoration that mimics the look, feel, and function of a natural tooth while also preventing jawbone loss.
Discover the best solution for your tooth with a consultation.
If you have a troublesome tooth you think might need to be removed, it’s important to first speak with an experienced dentist like Dr. Garcia.
During your consultation, Dr. Garcia will take a look at your problem tooth, review the X-rays, and discuss which treatment option is right for your smile. If extraction is deemed necessary, she’ll also go over restorative treatments, like dental implants, to replace the tooth immediately after removal. Schedule your visit at our dental office in Austin, TX, via phone or online request.