Do something before you lose that tooth!


Any number of things can happen to your teeth. Decay is a frequent problem, and bone loss or trauma can cause them to wobble. These may be times when you find it easy to believe that all is lost and to label your tooth a goner.

Hold on! Don't give up on that tooth too soon. It may be giving you grief right now, but there could be a way to save it. Fillings, crowns and root canals have rescued many a problem tooth, but unless you act quickly, they can't.

Saving Your Tooth with a Filling

Once a tooth has begun to decay, its structure will weaken, and pain can result. However, the right type of filling can resolve the problem before it gets out of hand. Your dentist's choice of filling materials include:

  • Amalgam. This traditional combination of metals has served as a filling material for at least 150 years. Composed mainly of relatively harmless materials like silver, tin and copper, amalgam also contains mercury, an element that has recently raised red flags among some concerning its safety. However, most believe it to be harmless in the lesser amounts used for dental fillings, and there is no question but that amalgam fillings are stronger and longer-wearing that their composite cousins.
  • Composite. When used as a dental filling material, this tooth-colored, plastic-and-glass substance is far less noticeable than amalgam. Despite the greater cost of composite fillings, many people prefer them, particularly for use in teeth that reside in the front of the mouth. Unfortunately, composite fillings are less robust than the amalgam variety and may not last as long.

Protecting a Tooth with a Cap or Crown

If trauma or decay have damaged the tooth's structure past the point at which fillings will be enough to save it, a crown or cap can restore its appearance and allow it to function as intended. The crown will cover the tooth completely, and once it has been cemented into place, it will be indistinguishable from a natural tooth.

Dental crowns can protect weak teeth, restore broken teeth and improve the appearance of teeth that are misshapen or badly discolored. Materials commonly used for crowns include resin, porcelain, ceramic, stainless steel, metal and porcelain fused to metal. Each has a specific use.

Lengthening the Crown of the Tooth

If your dental problems stem from periodontal disease or your problem tooth has broken off below the gumline, a crown lengthening procedure will frequently save the day. The technique involves recontouring the gum tissue and bone surrounding the tooth to permit access to hidden decay or prepare the area for receipt of a crown. This method can also serve a cosmetic purpose, improving the appearance of teeth that appear unnaturally short. The procedure is safe and imposes no threat to surrounding teeth.

Root Canal Treatment

When inflammation or infection has reached the root of a tooth, excruciating pain is a frequent result. In a desperate effort to gain relief, people often request a tooth extraction. However, this is a drastic solution to an easily solved problem. Root canal can stop the pain by removing the infected pulp along with the dead nerve tissue and bacteria. This is followed by the insertion of gutta percha and the placement of a temporary filling. In most cases, a cap will be required to protect the tooth following root canal.

Sending That Problem Tooth to Rehab

Dr. White believes firmly in saving every tooth that he possibly can. Unfortunately, not every tooth will be a candidate for salvation. This is frequently the case when people tend to wait too long, hoping against hope that the tooth will magically repair itself. Unfortunately, if you fail to act in time, any tooth can reach the point of no return. There will also be times when your best attempts to save it just don't work and extraction is your only option.

However, if your problem tooth retains sufficient structure and the root remains sound, there are things you can do to save it. All you must do is act in time before the tooth becomes too badly compromised. Unless or until it gets to that point, you owe it to yourself to give it every chance.