You Can Keep Your Natural Teeth for a Lifetime

Posted by Dr. Edward Magida | Filed under , ,

Modern dental treatment allows a person to keep their natural teeth for a lifetime. This statement shouldn't surprise anyone anymore. It is common knowledge. Isn't it?

It used to be that when you had a toothache or a loose tooth, you went to your local dentist and had it pulled. After all, your father had his teeth pulled when he had a bad one, as did his father, so why shouldn't the tradition continue?

If the tooth didn't need pulling then maybe it could be patched up. A humongous filling could be placed in it and on the way out the dentist would pat you on the back and say, "we'll keep an eye on it".

Nowadays this is called supervised neglect. More on that later, though.

How many times have you had someone tell you they are going to the dentist to have a tooth extracted because they didn't want to go through the time and expense of treating it? Maybe they are already wearing a partial denture and having it removed and a tooth added to the denture seemed "no big deal." Perhaps you have been introduced to someone and upon greeting you they smile and you notice the black hole. I know that I immediately wonder how someone can go through life like this, of course, I am biased with regards to these things.

I repeat my opening statement. Modern dental treatment allows a person to keep their natural teeth for a lifetime.

Most of the time a tooth gets in trouble because the person has not kept up with their dental examinations on a timely basis and/or a problem develops but the person decides to ignore it, thinking that somehow it will go away.

It doesn't happen very often, but every now and then a person comes in with a problem and before I even get to look or give any treatment, the person says, "C'mon, just rip it out, Doc." It's said very matter of fact, seemingly without thought. This is especially true if the offending tooth is in the back of the person's mouth. After all, out of sight, out of mind.

Most people probably think they have enough teeth and having one removed should have little consequence to their oral health. I can't emphasize enough how erroneous this is.

When a tooth is removed the other teeth in the area are affected. The adjacent teeth have a tendency to move or tip into the newly created space. This can create food traps around teeth that had no problem previously, If food can easily get stuck between teeth, the chances of new decay starting somewhere increase. Gum pockets can form around teeth that have tipped over and if these periodontal problems are not addressed, other teeth can be lost. If a lower molar is removed, there is a good chance the upper tooth on top of the new hole will start to elongate and drift down into the space.

What I am trying to have you understand in the fact that many detrimental things can happen if you lose a tooth. It is extremely important to consult with your dentist to determine the best course of treatment to prevent problems if you are told that a tooth that is non-restorable must be extracted. However, if after a careful examination, you are told that it is wise to keep and restore the tooth, do not let your dentist subscribe to the supervised neglect plan I mentioned before.

If a tooth needs a crown or an on-lay to properly bring it back to normal function, do not let the dentist put a boulder-sized filling in the tooth and say, "we'll see how this works out."

Large fillings do not support themselves, let alone support a whole tooth. I can't tell you how many times I see teeth that are almost 100 percent filling, with cracks either in the filling and or the tooth. Also, 99 out of every 100 teeth filled like this get new decay around or under the filling. Have it restored the way the dentist would like his or her tooth restored. If you think like this, your teeth will last a long, long time.