I am wondering how bad it really is to be missing a tooth? I think I’d rather just have it pulled out to be done with it. It seems like the last couple times I went in the dentist, he just wants me to keep getting treatment on it to save it. But, if it’s a lost cause, I’m ready to be done with it. He is recommending a root canal on the molar along with a crown. He even mentioned a dental implant if it gets to the point where a root canal will not save it. I just don’t want to keep spending a ton of money on a second molar that seems useless at this point. Am I off base here? I know I’m kind of cheap but this doesn’t make much sense to me.
-Paul in Indiana
Well, it is important to realize that a dental implant is the ideal solution to replace a missing tooth. A dental implant is a permanent solution that not only looks natural, but functions just like a normal tooth. However, if you are ever going to lose a tooth, the last molar will present the least amount of complications. For most, that is indeed the second molar. This is because there is no tooth located behind it to shift into the space where the tooth is missing. It is important to realize however, that if it is a lower last molar, than you may end up losing the upper molar opposite it. This is because it will not have any opposing tooth and it will drift down until it starts to bite along your gum. You should be able to maintain decent chewing capacity too, as long as your other molars are in good health.
All that to be said, it’s still best to try and save a second molar, and most dentists will go to great lengths to save any natural tooth. This is because when you are missing a tooth, the bone is resorbed so the minerals can be used elsewhere in they body. Then, it causes the other surrounding teeth to shift into the empty spot and over time the jawbone will shrink. Again, with the last molar, that does present the least amount of issues. But it will likely impact your overall chewing efficiency, especially over time.
It would be good to seek a second opinion to see if another dentist recommends the same treatment plan. Generally speaking, the root canal would be the best option to save the tooth, and less expensive than a dental implant.
Thank you for your questions. Hopefully, this information is helpful as you consider your options.
This post is sponsored by Petaluma dentist Rick Lane, DDS.