Healthy Smiles By Rita Tempel, DDS – This column was published in the Gettysburg Times on Oct. 15, 2020
What do you think: Is it possible to live to the age of 100 and still have your natural teeth?
Would you be surprised if I said, “Absolutely—yes!”
In today’s column, I’m going to explain why maintaining and saving your natural teeth is a much better option versus dentures. And, I’ll provide some handy “how to” tips.
Hopefully by the end of this column, you’ll have a greater appreciation for your teeth, and you’ll know how best to take care of them for a lifetime of smiles.
Here’s a common scenario: A patient is experiencing tooth pain, infection, or has a cracked or injured tooth—and as a result, they wonder if it’s better to pull the tooth rather than fixing it. Pulling the tooth is the least expensive option—or is it?
If the patient opts to pull the tooth, here are three things that typically happen next:
Missing teeth can cause the surrounding teeth to shift. Sometimes patients think, “It’s just a back tooth—no one is going to see that it’s missing.” But if your teeth shift, it can affect your bite, as well as your ability to chew properly.
Secondly, when a tooth is lost, the bone is no longer supported and over time, bone is lost too. Replacing that bone is not only difficult but expensive and sometimes impossible.
And lastly, replacing a missing tooth is likely to cost more, in the long run.
So let’s go back to the situation: What are some solutions to tooth pain or infection, and why should we try to save natural teeth if possible?
A root canal is often the recommended treatment of choice for an injured or diseased tooth. Following root canal treatment, a natural tooth could last the rest of your life with proper care.
There is no bridge, implant or denture that will ever feel or function as well as our natural, healthy teeth. Why? Dentures cannot replace the natural hardness and function of your teeth. Just as plastic utensils don’t cut or function as well as silverware, plastic replacement teeth do not look, feel or function as well as your natural teeth.
While accidents and injuries can happen, are there ways to prevent tooth pain and being in this situation in the first place? Yes, and here are three tips:
- At the first sign of pain, swelling, or excessive sensitivity to heat or cold, call your dentist to make an appointment right away.
- The best way to prevent tooth loss is to maintain good dental habits—brushing and flossing twice a day and seeing your dentist for regular checkups.
- Good dental habits are trending! Over the past 50 years, complete tooth loss (all teeth being pulled for dentures) has decreased by more than 75% in adults between the ages of 65 and 74.
So whether you are 18 or 98, or anywhere in between, I hope that you treasure your natural teeth, so that they last your entire life—even to 100!
Dr. Rita Tempel is an Accredited Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and owner of Gettysburg Smiles Cosmetic & Family Dentistry as well as a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine and owner of Sweet Dreams Gettysburg, 2018 York Road, Gettysburg. For more information, see GettysburgSmiles.com, follow @ritatempeldds on Instagram, or like her Facebook page @Gettysburgsmiles or call 717-339-0033.