WHEN IT COMES to ensuring that patients are able to keep teeth that otherwise might have needed to be extracted, endodontists are the absolute best dental professionals for the job. As we continue to make more advances in research and technology, the science of saving teeth will only improve, but why is it so important to save damaged teeth? Why is that better than extracting them, especially considering that prosthodontics has come a long way too?
The Mouth Heals Around Natural Teeth Faster
Healing in any part of the body requires a good blood supply, and dental implant surgery can compromise that blood supply for the gum tissue. Tissue regeneration slows down as a result, and the patient is more likely to develop scars. Contrast that against a tooth that has been saved with root canal therapy, where the blood supply to the gum tissue is stronger and better at recovering from damage or infections.
The Immune System Doesn’t Always Like Implants
Sometimes our immune systems are a little too good at what they do. That’s where food allergies come from, and it’s why some organ transplants fail. While uncommon, even an inorganic implant like a dental implant can fail! The healing body can mistake the implant for a harmful foreign object, and the support structures around it may break down as a result. This is not a problem for a natural tooth, which also has the periodontal ligament to help keep out bacteria where the tooth attaches to the gum tissue.
With Implants Comes the Risk of New Types of Gum Disease
As many as half of all American adults are estimated to have some form of gum disease, and dental implant patients are far from exempt. There’s even a special name for gum disease when it develops around an implant: peri-implant mucositis. The difference between this and regular gum disease is that the inflammation can spread more easily because implants lack the physical barrier against bacteria that natural teeth have.
Peri-implant mucositis can be treated and reversed just like gum disease can, but that becomes much more complicated if it is left to develop into peri-implantitis, which compromises the underlying bone structure and threatens the entire implant. At this point, surgical intervention is usually required.
Implants and the Jaw
One reason implants are the best option to replace a missing tooth is that they offer better support for the jaw bone than dentures, applying pressure more like a real tooth to keep it from atrophying like an unused muscle. The downside is that there’s no cushioning barrier between the implant post and the bone, meaning that the risk of bone loss is still higher than it would be with a natural tooth in its periodontal ligament.
We’re Always Rooting for Your Natural Teeth!
Some teeth are too damaged from decay or injury to be saved with root canal therapy, but extraction should be the last resort because nothing on the market is going to do a better job of being a tooth than our own natural teeth. If you have questions about root canal therapy and its benefits, feel free to ask! We want our patients to have all the information they need to make the best decisions for their dental health.