Monday, October 1, 2012

Pull or Save That Tooth?

You have a toothache, but you ignored it because you couldn’t find the money or the time to get it fixed. Before you knew it, your cavity will require some serious drilling. So now you are faced with the decision to pull or repair the tooth. There are several pros and cons associated with each.

Pulling the tooth

Pulling the tooth is the most affordable option. Extracting a tooth costs between $50-$200 to perform. Once it is pulled, problem gone. The problem with pulling the tooth is that it leaves a gap in your bite. Over time, the other teeth may shift and your bite will be affected. The alignment changes can have a substantial impact on your dental health. If the teeth shift substantially, it could also affect the look of your smile as well. Removing a single tooth has the ability to cause problems with chewing, speaking and overall jaw functioning. The gaps are also prone to trap food and grow bacteria that lead to tooth decay and gum disease. You can opt for a dental implant or other dental appliance down the road to replace the extracted tooth and keep the teeth from shifting.

Tooth extraction may be necessary if the tooth is gone beyond repair. If the tooth has an excessive amount of decay, then there may not be enough of it left to repair it after the decay is removed. If the tooth is cracked or broken, extraction may also be the best option.

Teeth with moderate to advanced gum disease usually have a compromised bone support and should be pulled and not repaired. As the gum disease worsens, the tooth will become loose so it makes sense to pull it. Teeth that are nonfunctional, such as wisdom teeth, are many times pulled and not repaired.

How is a tooth pulled?

The dentist numbs the area with a topical anesthetic and Novocaine. Laughing gas is also used to relax the patient. Using dental pliers, the dentist slowly pulls the tooth by rocking it back and forth. Once it is a little loose, he pulls a little harder and then POP! The tooth is out. After the tooth is extracted, the dentist will provide you with aftercare instructions. Usually, the first 24 hours after a tooth extraction you are instructed not to eat any solid food on the side of the mouth where the tooth was pulled. You are also required to gargle with salt water. If the gap begins to bleed, simply bite down on a piece of gauze to control the bleeding. Essentially, pulling a tooth is a routine procedure that usually requires only a day of downtime.

Whichever option you choose, you will need to find a good dentist. While all dentists are trained how to perform a repair and extraction, each dentist has their own methodology. Some dentists are very sympathetic to patient anxiety and pain management, while others prefer to perform them naturally whenever possible. Make an initial appointment to ask questions about the procedure and to get to know the dentist before having the procedure performed. If you are not comfortable with the dentist, get a second opinion. The decision to pull or save your tooth is very important and a dental professional can walk you through the process.
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