Disaster dentistry

Thursday, December 12, 2015

Most people have heard about root canal treatment, extractions, dental implants, dental bridges and dentures.

What people don’t realise is that these treatments represent a dental disaster! A dental disaster is usually the result of neglect. Dental neglect takes two people: a lack of adequate dental hygiene from the patient, and poor quality, reactionary treatment from the dentist’s side, with a lack of proactive measures to ensure long-term dental health.

Dental disasters are costly to fix, usually unexpected, and even after costly treatment the tooth (or dental implant) is far weaker and less effective than before the disaster.

The best option is always to avoid this scenario through proper care by you and your dentist. It’s up to you to take care of your teeth through regularly brushing and flossing, and see your dentist or dental hygienist regularly so they can check your care is effective. If you do this then hopefully you won’t need any of the below procedures.

If your teeth have deteriorated, here’s a bit more information about some of the options available to you. I have to warn you, they are all serious, invasive, and costly procedures.

Root canal treatment

Root canal is the process of removing the nerve of a tooth so that the patient can keep the tooth without further pain or needing to have the tooth extracted. It has a high success rate but takes several appointments, is very costly, greatly weakens the tooth and will require a crown or porcelain filling to properly restore at completion.

Dental extractions

Every tooth has a purpose and early extraction means more load on other teeth, room for teeth to move and the beginning of the domino effect of tooth loss. Ideally, after an extraction the tooth should be replaced in some manner, which can be very expensive (dental implant or dental bridge) or uncomfortable (dentures).

Dental implants

A dental implant is a titanium implant (think screw) placed into the jaw bone, onto which a new custom crown is attached. This process is time-consuming (can take several months) and is very expensive. The cost is estimated at several thousands of dollars per implant and then additional several thousands of dollars for the custom crown.

Again, the best option is to not have the tooth extracted in the first place if possible. Dental implants are still very susceptible to gum disease (periodontal disease) and their success is largely based on the skill of the clinician who places them. They need more specialised ongoing maintenance care, often from a gum specialist.

Dental bridges

Dental bridges involve the replacement of a missing tooth by using the adjacent teeth as ‘bridge pylons’ to support the missing tooth (the span). This option produces an unnatural environment with the teeth now joined together, is much harder to clean, places a huge load on the adjacent teeth and doesn’t always reproduce a natural, cosmetic appearance.

It’s an old restorative option which we rarely use at Oasis Dental with newer techniques such as dental implants available. It’s costly, and there is not much difference in the cost of a dental bridge vs a dental implant. When a dental bridge fails it often results in more extractions and even more tooth loss.


False teeth; enough said.

Final words

If, like me, you don’t think a dental disaster is acceptable, then I can’t reiterate enough how important it is for you to take care of your teeth. A commitment to brushing and flossing daily will save you a lot of pain, time, and money and help you avoid the treatments mentioned here.

Posted in: Dental health, Opinion

One response to “Disaster dentistry”

  1. Jon says:

    Your being so dismissive of dentures shows your focus is skewed to those with money enough to afford the exorbitant Australian dental prices.

    And sometimes, after years of misdiagnosis, mistreatment and misuse by dentists with an eye on the money the only safe harbour is dentures.

    May lose all your money and your teeth all fall out, so you know what the rest of us know. :-)

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