THE GUM GARDEN

Would you have all your teeth removed?

Would you ever consider paying your dentist $50,000 to have all of your teeth removed?

Are you kidding? Why would I do that?

Believe it or not, many people routinely pay this sort of money to have all of their teeth extracted. They may have been advised to remove their natural teeth and replace them with expensive dental implants.

Wow! What is wrong with their own teeth?

Often there is very little wrong with the teeth, but the gums might be inflamed. This can cause infection and bone loss, eventually allowing the teeth to become loose.

Can’t you do something to fix inflamed gums?

Absolutely! With the latest periodontal treatment, it is often possible to preserve the maximum number of teeth for as long as possible. We believe that this should always be the first option, rather than extracting all the teeth without even trying to save them.

But I see so many dentists advertising implants as the solution to all dental problems.

Dental implants can be an excellent choice if you have already lost teeth or if there is absolutely no alternative to an extraction. However, it is important to know that dental implants can also develop problems in the longer term. We often see patients who have received implants in the past who then go on to suffer infections, bone loss and even loose implants.

The most important step is to identify what caused the original problems with the patient’s teeth and try to prevent those problems from coming back in future. In many cases, once the underlying cause has been properly treated, the teeth might not need to be extracted in the first place.

Does that mean I’d have to have lots of painful, expensive dental procedures to keep my own teeth?

No. These days, periodontal treatment should be a relatively simple, comfortable process, which is almost always significantly less expensive than having dental implants. In some cases a gum specialist can treat the whole mouth for a fraction of the cost of just one dental implant.

More importantly, by treating the original cause of any inflammation and stopping any gum disease, you are more likely to keep your teeth for the long term. And if you do ever need implants, your mouth will be in a much better condition with a reduced risk of further problems.

I heard that implants are better because they don’t decay.

It’s true that dental implants do not get cavities in the same way that natural teeth do. However, that doesn’t mean that implants can be neglected. They are just as susceptible to the bacteria that cause gum infections, particularly in patients that have previously suffered from inflamed gums. If these bacteria are not properly controlled, they can cause severe bone loss around implants.

I’ve always suffered problems with my own teeth. Wouldn’t it be easier to just have them all out and have implants?

Not necessarily. This should be a last resort if there are really no other options left. With the help of your periodontist, you might be able to comfortably keep your teeth for many more years. Even if they eventually do need to be extracted, at least you have kept your options open for as long as possible. Once all of your teeth are gone, the only options left are implants or dentures.

The Gum Gardener

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