When patients are faced with a severe tooth problem that requires complex dental treatment to save it, I am often asked the question “I have 28 teeth, what could it hurt to live with 27, 26 or less? What would happen if we just extract the tooth?” Some ask this question because complex dental treatment comes with a higher cost which is often initially considered a financial deterrent to tooth replacement options. An inexpensive decision to extract a tooth today may result in 10 times the cost 10 years from now. There are many factors to consider when making a decision on extracting a tooth other than based simply on cost today’s cost. Some factors to consider include: jaw/muscle health, bite balance (occlusion), speech changes, impact of remaining teeth, sinuses and bone.
JAW/MUSCLE HEALTH: Teeth do so much more for us than just to aid in chewing, food. What many people don’t realize is the vital role that teeth play in supporting healthy jaw joints and even more importantly the role they play in promoting healthy, pain free jaw and facial muscle action. Jaw muscles can be very finicky. They are only happy when they function within the “zone of efficiency” This “zone” is where they expend the least amount of energy and consume the least amount of resources to perform the greatest amount of work. Our teeth and jaw joints are intimately responsible for creating this zone of muscle efficiency. When we change or alter this system the result can be the onset of jaw pain, chronic facial pain and headaches.
BITE BALANCE (OCCLUSION): Another important role that teeth play is their action to disperse and dissipate the energy and forces that arise during muscle contraction. Human jaw muscles contract with upwards of 200 square foot pounds of force. That is a lot of energy! In a perfect scenario, persons have 28 teeth, with each tooth responsible for dispersing 7 1/8 square foot pounds of force. Usually, a few teeth carry more than their fair share of the weight. Consider that with each lost tooth that is no longer able to carry its share of weight, the work load from that newly missing tooth is now being transferred to some other tooth or multiple teeth. This is often the reason people feel an odd change in their bite or sore teeth after they have had extractions. As a dentist I am always considering the consequences of what excessive forces on other teeth or jaws will be:
Will the excessive force weaken other teeth?
Will excessive bite forces deaden the blood supply and living tissue in teeth?
How about possible damage to the bone that supports them?
Will they cause teeth or dental restorations to crack or break?
SPEECH: Consider your speech patterns. The three most difficult syllables to pronounce in the English language are S, T and TH. All of which can only be pronounced when the tongue interacts properly with teeth. The S syllable requires interaction with both front and back teeth. T and TH syllables interact primarily with front teeth. Speech becomes challenging for people missing teeth, not to mention the challenge of keeping saliva in our mouth rather than on the person we are talking to. ☺
IMPACT ON OTHER TEETH, SINUSES & BONE: Lastly, there are the obvious changes that take place when teeth are removed, including teeth drifting, shifting, leaning and moving creating spaces, food traps, and off angle forces. Remaining teeth will super erupt into the missing tooth space. Air sinuses will drop when upper teeth are removed increasing risk for sinus infections and other issues. Further, the bone that once supported the missing tooth will disappear which usually affects the support bone of the missing tooth’s neighbors.
You can see that if cost is your sole concern, your oral and overall health will benefit from consider the possible chain reaction of costs that may occur as a result of an extraction decision today. You’ll also be glad to know that there is good news! It’s never too late to reverse the effects of missing teeth. And there are always a variety of options including teeth that are permanent (dental implants) as well as less expensive options like removable teeth (dentures) or a combination of both (implant retained dentures).
There is also a misconception that dentures are an inexpensive solution to dental problems. People seldom consider all factors involved when deciding on dentures. When many teeth have to be extracted all in the same day, it can create unexpected costs. Sometimes issues with bone or tissue have to be resolved before dentures can be fitted. Also, often the first denture you receive is typically only good for the first year. This is due to the extreme change that takes place as the mouth heals, requiring the denture to be remade further increasing dental expenses.
You may be experiencing oral issues, such as, a painful or loose teeth, or you may have missing teeth and are dealing with the related negative side effects. One thing I can promise is that preventive care and catching problems while they are small and while tooth structure can be preserved is always going to be the least expensive best time to treat dental problems. Fixing teeth as you go will always cost less than that trying to reconstruct your mouth later.
FREE INFORMATIONAL EVENT
If you would like to learn more about what options are available to help reverse your situation, please join us for a night of education, fun and food on October 26th 6-7:30 PM at The Club at Prescott Lakes. Our FREE community educational events are unique in that they offer you the opportunity to pick the brain of our local expert dentists with whatever questions you may have. Also, please view our ONLINE INFORMATIONAL VIDEO about the seminar at www.PRESCOTTDENTIST.COM/EVENT.
Seats are limited so REGISTER TODAY online or call 928-776-1208. In appreciation of your attendance, eligible attendees will receive a certificate for a FREE 3D CT SCAN AND CONSULTATION ($500 Value) with Dr. Jason Campbell or Dr. Rick Farnsworth of Pro Solutions Dental Group - Offices of Jason C. Campbell, D.D.S. Family, Implant & Reconstructive Dentistry.