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Can You Save This Tooth? Atlanta, GA
Woman With Tooth Pain

Most dentists will tell you that saving a tooth whenever possible is the better choice rather than extraction. There are certain situations in which it only makes sense to remove the tooth; but in some situations where there is a choice, it may be better to try to keep your natural tooth. Ultimately, when there is a choice, whether or not your tooth remains or is removed is up to you; but you need to be aware of the advantages of keeping your natural tooth whenever possible.

Some Teeth Need to Go

Unfortunately, not every tooth that is damaged or decayed can be saved. There are some teeth that will need to be removed for other reasons as well. Sometimes even healthy teeth need to be extracted in order to maintain optimum oral health. For example, when teeth are crowded and orthodontics are necessary. In the case of wisdom teeth, they often need to be removed before they can cause problems.

Extracting Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt. They usually do not make an appearance until the late teens or early twenties. Rarely, an individual will have jaws large enough to accommodate all four wisdom teeth and they will come in without a problem. More often, these final molars cause problems. Sometimes they grow in sideways or partially under the adjacent molar, pushing on it and causing pain. Wisdom teeth are often impacted or they may only grow in partially, leaving a flap of gum covering half the tooth.

When a wisdom tooth is only partially erupted, it can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. The flap of gum tissue covering the unerupted part of the tooth can be a food trap where decay will eventually develop. Neglecting this situation will lead to pain and discomfort in the future, as the cavity becomes worse and eventually attacks the pulp of the tooth.

Extracting wisdom teeth can eliminate the pain they can cause while trying to erupt. It also prevents teeth from becoming crowded.

Extraction for Crowded Teeth

Wisdom teeth are not the only ones that can cause crowding. Genetics can also play a role in crowding teeth. When an individual inherits a smaller jaw and larger teeth, the permanent teeth may come in crooked due to crowding. When this is the case, keeping the teeth clean can be challenging. There will be areas that are difficult to clean and floss. Plaque can build up in these spots and cause gum disease to develop. Tooth decay may also develop in hard-to-reach areas.

When crowding is an issue, your dentist may recommend that some teeth be extracted. Removing a tooth on either side can create the space required for the permanent teeth to be straight. Orthodontics may be needed in order to straighten out the teeth that have been jammed together.

Cracked or Damaged Teeth

Not every tooth that is cracked or damaged needs to be extracted. There are certain situations in which such a tooth cannot be saved; however, a thorough examination of the tooth in question is necessary in order for the dentist to make the best recommendation.

A subgingival fracture is a break that has occurred below the gum line. Generally, when a tooth sustains this type of damage below the gumline, the tooth will need to be removed. If a tooth is cracked and the crack is below the gumline, it may need to be extracted.

If the crack or damage is not below the gumline, the tooth may be salvaged. If the damage involves the pulp of the tooth but is above the gumline, it may be possible to save the tooth, although a root canal may be necessary. Exposure of the nerves of the tooth can lead to infection and inflammation.

Performing a root canal will remove the nerves and blood vessels in the tooth. Once the canal is cleaned out and sterilized, a special filling is put in the root and it is sealed off to prevent bacteria from entering. The tooth is then filled and repaired. Your dentist may recommend a crown for the tooth in order to protect it from further damage and give it strength and stability.

Root Canal for Decayed Teeth

When a tooth is badly decayed and the pulp is involved, your dentist will need to make an assessment to determine if the tooth can be saved or not. When decay attacks the pulp of the tooth, an abscess may form at the apex of the tooth root. If the abscess has been there long enough, the infection in the tooth may eat away the bone around the root. If the cavity is very large, the tooth may not be stable enough to save. But if there is enough healthy tooth left, your dentist may recommend a root canal.

In this situation, all the decay in the tooth and in the root/s of the tooth is thoroughly cleaned out. The nerves and blood vessels are removed along with the fluid from the abscess. Draining the abscess is important in order to ensure the infection is under control. Your dentist may put you on antibiotics to help eliminate the infection.

Once the infection is under control, the interior of the tooth is cleared of decay and a special filling is put into the root canal/s and sealed off. The tooth is then filled with the appropriate filling material. Your dentist may need to use composite to build up the missing part of the tooth. Most likely you will also need a crown on the tooth for protection, strength and stability.

When an Extraction is Necessary

When a tooth is extracted for reasons other than being a wisdom tooth or for crowding, your dentist will recommend replacing the tooth as soon as possible. The space left by a missing tooth can cause a host of problems over time. Replacing the tooth quickly is the best way to keep your other teeth from moving out of position and keep your smile healthy and looking good.

There are options for replacing missing teeth and your dentist will make recommendations regarding the best ones for your situation. Dental implants are becoming the favorite choice for replacing teeth for several reasons. Not only do they look and feel more like your natural tooth, implants also help to keep your bone healthy.

When a tooth is extracted, over time the bone and gum in the space will begin to shrink. This change in structure can affect the way you look and, of course, you have a big gap where the tooth used to be located. A dental implant prevents shrinkage of the bone and maintains bone structure so your facial features will not be affected as you age. Dental implants are not for everyone.

Some patients will not be able to have an implant due to weak, thin or brittle bone. Some patients have medical conditions that may preclude them from having a dental implant. For these patients, dental bridge work or dentures are acceptable alternatives. After reviewing your medical history and assessing the situation, your dentist will advise you on the best route for replacing your missing tooth or teeth.

When you need a tooth extracted, you can depend on Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta to provide you with the best and most aesthetically pleasing solution for replacement. If you need teeth replaced and want your smile to look its best, give us a call and schedule an appointment for a consultation with one of our prosthodontists today.

Posted on behalf of Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta

200 Galleria Pkwy SE, Suite 1830
Atlanta, GA 30339

Phone: (770) 955-0550

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What Our Patients Says
Aesthetic and Implant Dentistry of Atlanta

4.9 / 5

Based on 136 reviews

Dr. Zelby was recommended to me by both my dentist and periodontist. I could not agree more. the kindness, caring, and professionalism that I experienced at Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta is above and beyond. I highly recommend Dr. Zelby, his assistants, and the staff. I couldn't be happier with my new teeth and wish I had done this years ago! five stars to you guys

Catherine W.

Everything about my experience was enjoyable. I felt like the practice used all of the most advanced and best technology out there which gave me a wonderful feeling of confidence. They were very professional and straight forward and I have never had a better dentistry experience. I'd highly recommend checking them out if you're looking for a new dentist. They're friendly and efficient and they really do know what they're doing there.

Meghan D.

Dr Zelby has been my dentist now for almost 17 years. Not only is he a really nice person, his dentistry is completely top notch. If you need any restorations, I don't think that there is another place to even consider. You'll be amazed with his work!

Brian S.

Dr. Levine was great, and Dr. Zelby stopped by and answered some questions I had about sheering forces on enamel. They were both very friendly, and the hygenist (whose name I forget, unfortunately) gave one of the most thorough cleanings I've ever had. The office was clean, the devices all seem shiny and well maintained, and overall it was a great experience

Benjamin S.

After going to another dentist, doctor Zelby was able to fix my front two teeth so that the front two teeth were back to the same length and color. I'm so thankful he was able to make them look normal again. Dr. Zelby and his staff are so pleasant to be around as well. I highly recommend this office if you have a major problem with your teeth that need to be fixed. He can get it done and he will make sure you are happy.

Carrie G.

I had been going to the same dentist for many years and switched to Aesthetic and Implant recently. My experience with Dr Levine was incredible. I cannot be happier with the decision I made. The cleaning and other services I received were well above and beyond any other I have ever had. Highly recommend this practice to everyone!

Matthew G.

Couldn't be happier! Absolutely worth the travel time. Dr Zelby is without doubt the best - caring, knowledgeable, reassuring and very professional. Couldn't ask for better dentistry. Staff also very competent and professional. Beautiful, clean environment

Diane W.

Megan is the best dental hygienist I’ve ever had. She does a phenomenal job keeping your teeth clean, is super nice, and makes you feel right at home. The whole staff is very friendly and I couldn’t recommend this place enough!

Vincent C.

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Cobb Galleria Office Complex, Building 200, Suite 1830


200 Galleria Pkwy SE, Suite 1830
Atlanta, GA 30339

Phone: (770) 955-0550

Opening Hours

Monday 9AM – 5PM
Tuesday 9AM – 5PM
Wednesday 9AM – 3PM
Thursday 9AM – 5PM
Friday 9AM – 4PM

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