“I want this tooth OUT!” is often the first reaction that comes to mind when a patient has a severe tooth ache. While a tooth extraction may seem like the easiest form of pain-relief, it’s important to understand the long term risks associated with losing a tooth as well as the other options you have available in the form of dental implants, bridges and partials.
The Risks of Removing a Tooth
While it may seem like just one tooth, and that you can chew just fine without it, losing a tooth can have several detrimental effects on your oral health, including:
- Other teeth in your mouth can shift causing mis-alignment, effecting your appearance and bite.
- Without the stimulation of having a tooth the bone in that area tends to atrophy away with roughly 25% of bone loss expected in the area of a missing tooth in the first year after an extraction.
- If you develop severe bone loss, it could trigger a domino effect resulting in additional teeth needing to be extracted.
- With missing teeth your face and cheeks will tend to sink in, aging your appearance.
Understanding Your Replacement Options
Rather than leaving a gap, here are 3 recommended courses of treatment when a tooth is extracted, each with a varying degree of benefit, lifespan and cost:
1. A Dental Implants
While expensive in the short run, implants last a lifetime and are the closest thing to real tooth.
Implants are made out of a titanium screw that is surgically placed into the bone and once it is well healed we place a crown made of porcelain over top of the implant itself. Implant are very lifelike and not fake looking at all. The surgery is quick with fast healing and very little discomfort. The dentist will not have to drill on any other opposing teeth for the implant.
Additionally, implants help to prevent bone loss in the area where the tooth has been extracted. With implants your face will not sink in nor will your teeth lean or tip over. There is no removing and cleaning anything, the implant is there to stay forever. Cleaning is simple, just like you are already used to doing, no extra steps.
2. A "Bridge"
Dental bridges literally bridge the gap created by one or more missing teeth, and are usually recommended for patients who have decay on the opposing teeth.
A bridge is very life like and, depending on your provider, can be similar in price to an implant. The length of time that a bridge lasts is anywhere from 5-20 years, and is highly dependent on your oral hygiene.
With a bridge, your teeth will not be able to lean or tip over and your face will not sink in either. Two downsides of a bridge are that it does not prevent bone loss where your previous tooth was removed, and while it does not impact your brushing, it does impact flossing.
3. A Partial Denture
Typically the least favorite option, a partial denture, also referred to as “false teeth” is worn over your gums and is a cost-effective remedy to having missing teeth.
Partials can be taken in our out and are made out of metals and acrylics. As long as you are wearing your partial your teeth won’t tip or lean and there will be no sinking in your facial appearance.
Some of the downsides of partials include sore spots from rubbing while chewing and talking. They can also cause minor speech impediments or eating impairments that tend to go away with time. Like a bridge, a partial will not prevent bone loss in the area of extractions.
While having a tooth removed may seem like the quickest solution when you are in pain, there are long term side-effects of not having that tooth in place. Dental implants, bridges and partials are treatment options that can relieve pain the short run and help you eat, clean and look better in the long run.
At Port City Dental Center we want to ensure you understand each of your treatment options and are committed to improving your oral health. Located in central Wilmington, we are an award-winning family dental practice focused on providing the highest level of care to patients of all ages.