Why Do Some Teeth Have to be Pulled?

Having tooth pulled is a relatively common experience.  Children lose twenty baby teeth, perhaps having them pulled by their parents.  Many people have their wisdom teeth extracted in their late teens or early twenties.

Aside from baby teeth and wisdom teeth, why do other teeth have to be pulled?

It’s all about prognosis.

What is Prognosis?

Prognosis is a forecast of the most likely outcome of a situation.  It is like a prediction.  When Dr. Chowning evaluates a tooth with a problem, he must consider the severity of the problem,  available treatment options,  and the likely outcome of those treatment options.

Dentists typically give a tooth a prognosis that is one of the following: good, fair, poor, or hopeless.  Good prognosis means that there is little risk for any complications, and you will keep  tooth for a very long time.  Fair prognosis includes the risk of some complications and a chance that the tooth will need more treatment in the future.  Poor prognosis means the tooth is not likely to successfully function in your mouth for any extended period of time.  Hopeless prognosis means no treatment will enable you to keep the tooth in your mouth.

What Gives a Tooth a Poor Prognosis?

The more severe a dental problem is, the lower the prognosis.  Teeth with very large cavities, deep fractures, and/or severe gum disease often carry a poor long-term prognosis.  Treatment performed on these teeth does not guarantee that they will last forever.

The reason we are cautious about giving a prognosis for teeth and their corresponding dental treatment is that we want your dental work to last.  At Timberlake Dental, we are committed to performing excellent dentistry.  We stand behind the work that we do, and with the proper care, it should last many years.

We also talk about prognosis because we want our patients to have clear expectations about their dental work.  When we do not believe that dental treatment will give a tooth many more years, that tooth has a poor long-term prognosis.

When a tooth has a poor long-term prognosis, we will always discuss the option of extracting the tooth.  We want every investment in your mouth to be a good one.

What Gives a Tooth a Hopeless Prognosis?

A hopeless prognosis means that no treatment will save the tooth in order to keep it in your mouth.  For teeth with a hopeless prognosis, extraction is the only treatment option to remove the dental disease.   The tooth must be pulled in order to ensure your overall health and safety.

How Do I Replace a Tooth That Has Been Pulled?

In most cases, you will be able to replace  pulled tooth with a dental implant.  Dental implants are the best way to restore a missing tooth because they are the only treatment option that recreates every part of a tooth.  By replacing the tooth’s root, a dental implant functions like a natural tooth.

There are other ways to replace missing teeth, including removable partials and cemented bridges.  These options require support from other teeth and, over time, weaken and damage those supporting teeth.  Dental implants stand alone.  They do not need any other teeth in order to function.

Because an implant is as close as we can get to a natural tooth, you will not miss the pulled tooth.  An implant looks and functions the same way a natural tooth does.

What if I Don’t Replace a Tooth That Has Been Pulled?

Several problems can occur when you do not replace missing tooth.

  • Reduced chewing force – When you lose a tooth, there is less surface area available for chewing. Chewing works best when you have a full complement teeth.  Chewing function diminishes when even one tooth is missing.
  • Shifting, crowding or spacing teeth – The teeth hold each or in place. When you lose a tooth, the adjacent teeth drift into that space, causing changes in the alignment of the teeth.
  • Bite changes – The pressure between upper lower teeth during biting also holds the teeth in their vertical position. When you lose tooth, the opposing tooth can move into that space.  This is particularly common when a lower tooth is missing, the upper tooth drifts downward into the gap.
  • Increased risk for damage to neighboring teeth – Teeth are designed to withstand a certain amount of force from chewing. When you lose one tooth, the teeth on both sides have to bear more of the burden of chewing than they are designed to withstand.  This leads to an increased risk for gum recession and cracked teeth.

Replacing a missing tooth is always the best long-term treatment for your mouth.

Do You Have a Tooth with a Questionable Prognosis?

Call us today at 940-382-1750 to schedule consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He will discuss the prognosis of your tooth and detail all of your treatment options.

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