Tooth Extraction Alternatives

Your dentist just told you that you need to have one or more teeth pulled. Now you are home, sitting in front of your computer, trying to decide if out if this is really necessary. Having a tooth extracted is a big deal.

Most of the time, it is a good idea to defer to the judgment of your dentist, but you should always strive to be as informed as possible about your treatment plan. As a patient, you are also a critical member of the treatment team. Here are some common reasons why you might need an extraction:

  • Your teeth (and mouth) are crowded
  • Tooth infection
  • Compromised immune system
  • Wisdom teeth removal – this is sometimes unavoidable if the tooth is impacted

The downsides of an extraction

Depending on the number of teeth you need to be removed, your dentist may perform an in-office surgery while you are awake, or they may opt for a more surgical approach if you have many complicated extractions. Most people experience the first option.

Near the beginning of the procedure your dentist will often inject a local anesthetic, which can be initially painful and last hours after the surgery. Once it is complete, you will likely end up with a prescription to prevent infections and probably another for the pain. Many patients take a few weeks to fully recover. This recovery is slow and requires a lot of cleaning and maintenance on your part. Once you have recovered, you now likely face the prospect of expensive orthodontic work to correct the new gap in your teeth.

Most situations that lead to extraction are preventable

According to a July 2017 study by the European Journal of Dentistry "DCS [cavities] along with periodontal disease were the major reasons for extractions. These are largely preventable causes of tooth extraction."

This statement tells us that the most important alternative to tooth extraction is good oral hygiene, or brush and floss daily. However, sometimes this is not enough, and you find yourself in a situation where your dentist is recommending extraction.

What are my alternatives?

  1. Root canal

Root canal, or a "filling", is when the dentist uses a drill to form a canal to the root of your tooth. He then uses tools to clean out the damaged or infected tissue within the canal. This is then filled in with synthetic material. A root canal is often less painful and requires less medication after the procedure. This means you can get back to your normal life without the use of sedating pain medication.

  1. Dental Implant

This is less of an extraction alternative and more of a replacement option. This is an artificial tooth that is inserted into your extraction site to replace your tooth. These often look just like the real thing, but be aware that your tooth would still be pulled in this case. However, you will be avoiding the gap expensive orthodontic work to fill the gap left by an extraction.

  1. Partial Denture

These types of dentures are removable and allow you to keep part of your original tooth. Many people find this to be a cheap and easy alternative. However, they may not be as elegant as an implant or as simple as a root canal.

As you can see, the above options are not much better than having a tooth pulled, though a root canal is the least expensive and least invasive option. Therefore, it is very important to observe strong and regular oral hygiene practices. For more specific questions related to your specific case, give your dentist a call and speak with them directly.

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