When I was growing up, I had a couple of separate accidents that injured my front tooth. The first time, a swing hit my mouth while I was on the playground. Then, not too long after that, I had a billiards ball that smacked into my face and hit the same tooth. I never lost the tooth, But as I got older, the tooth turned yellow and eventually it turned brown.
The last time I saw the dentist, he told me that I need a dental implant to replace the tooth because there is no longer a root attached to it. It sounded really expensive and I also have a lot of other dental work that needs to be done. For example, I need a few fillings on my back teeth. I also have a couple teeth that need crowns. I need to prioritize my treatment plan. But I absolutely hate my ugly brown tooth. It makes me embarrassed every time I smile. Sp I know that I need to do something.
Do I have any other options besides a dental implant to replace my tooth?
Any advice you could give would be really helpful.
-Sandra in Louisiana
There are many options available to replace a missing tooth. You are correct that dental implants are expensive. However, a dental implant is the best, most permanent solution to replace a tooth. It will look, function and feel just like your natural tooth. But the cost can be an issue for some.
Here’s the thing, a dentist is obligated ethically to provide all your options. He shouldn’t make you feel like that is your only choice. So, it may be in your best interest to find another dentist if you feel pressured or that he didn’t come across as open to alternatives treatments.
It sounds like one of the accidents you had when you were a child severed the nerve of the tooth. This means that it is no longer was receiving blood and eventually it died. Also, when a tooth dies, it can become infected which can be a serious problem if it is left untreated. If the tooth would have received a root canal treatment back when the trauma occurred, then the root may have been saved. But over time the root slowly degraded. Now, it is still possible that the end result may have been the same in losing the tooth root, depending on how severe and the timing of the injury. However, the tooth would have had a higher percentage of being saved if a root canal was performed when you were younger. The technical term is called root resorption.
So, since the tooth no longer has a root, it cannot be saved. But you do have tooth replacement options that are less expensive and vary benefits. Generally, there are three options to replace a missing tooth. If the dentist didn’t provide you with anything else, it can actually be considered negligence. It may be difficult to trust the dentist at this point, which is why you should consider finding a new dentist. It is an example of his character, or lack thereof if he didn’t present you with all your options.
First, a dental bridge is an appliance that is attached to the two teeth that surround the missing tooth. The two teeth on each side of the missing one require a dental crown. Then, the false tooth fills the space between them. This procedure is less expensive than a dental implant. But a downside is that if the teeth that surround the tooth are otherwise healthy, the preparation for two crowns is invasive and not the best for healthy teeth.
Another option is a removable partial denture. This is a removable appliance that clips to the adjacent teeth and has a false tooth that fills the space. It is not as permanent of a solution and not as comfortable as a bridge or implant. But, it is an affordable option to replace a missing tooth. It can be a couple hundred dollars in some cases.
Trust is the single most important factor when selecting a dentist to replace your missing tooth. When you meet new dentists, be upfront with about your limitations financially. Then, talk together you can talk through the most urgent dental need you have and what your options are for replacing your brown tooth. Many dentists will work with you on payment or provide payment arrangements. But, it’s all about trust.
Good luck! Hopefully this information is encouraging to you that you do have options.
This post is sponsored by Petaluma dentist Dr. Rick Lane.