I went to a lecture the other day, all about new advances in gum surgery, and the speaker asked a good question: Do dentist take out teeth too early, just to place an implant?
There is no doubt that dentists are placing more and more dental implants, and there is a clear trend towards replacing teeth with dental implants, these days, even if a tooth can be saved with a root canal treatment, or specialist periodontal treatment – some dentists will still advise to have the tooth out, and replace with a dental implant.
One treatment that is very popular these days is “teeth in a day.” The kind of thing where all the teeth (deemed to be hopeless), are removed, and everything is replaced with dental implants. I have even carried this out for several patients – and I genuinely thought it was the best thing that I could do for my patients. Doing this dramatically improved their lives, but was it the right thing to do? Could the teeth have been saved? I’m not sure.
So why would a dentist recommend pulling teeth to place implants? One obvious answer could be money driven – Dental implants are profitable, and they are very successful, they last for ages. But they can fail. You hear very little about the failures, and if they do fail, its often a big problem!
Other answers could be that if one dentist cannot save the teeth, then another one may well be able to – and maybe dentists are not referring enough to each other. There are dental specialists for gums, for root treatments, for braces – but often the general dentist does not refer out to these specialties as much as they should.
From a patients point of view, having a tooth removed is often not the first choice! A few years ago, we were doing all we can to save teeth.
Lets say we can do something to save your teeth, and this lasts 7-10 years – wouldn’t it be a good idea to delay dental implant treatment for another 7-10 years?
Don’t get me wrong, dental implants are a fantastic treatment to replace already missing teeth (or teeth that are truly hopeless). In many cases, replacing these lost teeth can lengthen the life span of the existing teeth by reducing bite stresses.
One thing that many people considering dental implant treatment is that – they do not last forever. And when things start to fail, its important to catch if early, otherwise you could be in a very difficult situation!
So in closing, if you are considering something like this, ask if its possible to save teeth, rather than remove them for implants. My belief is that if you can delay dental implant treatment for as long as possible and keep your own teeth for as long as possible, then it will most likely benefit you in the long term.
If a general dentist cannot save a tooth, then ask if you can see a specialist in the field that’s effecting you most, and see what the most successful treatment is for you.