The Patient’s Guide to Getting Wisdom Teeth Removed

Initial ConsultationAt some point, typically during your late teens or early twenties, your dentist or oral surgeon will likely have a conversation with you about getting your wisdom teeth removed. Our four outermost molars (the third molars) are the last to come in, and quite often there isn’t room in the jawline to accommodate them. As a result, they can cause a variety of complications, impacted teeth, pericoronitis, severe infections, tooth pain, and overcrowding/misalignment of other teeth. Some patients have their wisdom teeth removed because they are already experiencing symptoms; for others, the dentist may recommend extraction as a preventative measure, or because it will provide more benefit to the other teeth.

While wisdom tooth extraction is quite common, it is still a surgical procedure, and as such it’s best to be as informed as possible before deciding if extraction is right for you. The following patient’s guide should help.

Do You Need Your Wisdom Teeth Removed, and Why?

Contrary to many people’s presumptions, not everyone needs to have their wisdom teeth removed. For some people, their wisdom teeth emerge in their proper place and without complications; for others, their teeth don’t emerge but also don’t cause any complications. A small percentage of people don’t get their wisdom teeth. So the first question is whether you need your wisdom teeth removed at all — and if so, why?

As a general rule, if you’re experiencing no complications and your X-rays don’t show any signs of possible issues, your dentist might take a wait-and-see approach. That said, there are a few telltale signals that suggest wisdom tooth extraction is a good idea:

  • You’re already experiencing complications — for example, infections, gum disease, cysts, etc.
  • Your other teeth start shifting due to pressure from the wisdom teeth.
  • Your wisdom teeth are unable to emerge or to emerge fully.
  • You have a history of oral complications in your family.

Performing the Wisdom Teeth Extraction

Once you and your oral surgeon have determined you’re a good candidate for wisdom tooth extraction, what happens next?

Depending on the circumstances, your dentist or oral surgeon may recommend removing wisdom teeth in two sessions, one for each side of the mouth. If the situation is more acute, it may be recommended to remove all four at once. In either case, you’ll want to prepare for surgery beforehand by avoiding foods for about 12 hours prior and scheduling a ride home, as you may not be in a condition to drive afterward. In some cases, the procedure is performed under general anesthesia — at other times, the surgeon will use a combination of local anesthesia and sedation. The procedure itself is usually straightforward, and barring any complications should take an hour or two, depending on how many teeth are being removed. Read here for more information on the procedure itself.

What to Expect During Wisdom Teeth Extraction Recovery

As with any surgery, you’ll have a bit of post-operative recovery time afterward. You can expect a bit of pain and swelling at the extraction site. You need to keep the wound areas clean and watch for infection. You may have to avoid solid foods for a time.

Recovery times vary according to every situation, but most patients begin resuming normal routines within a few days. Click here for some tips on how to accelerate your recovery time.

Wisdom Teeth Removal Complications to Watch For

Infection and dry socket are the two most common complications that may occur after wisdom tooth extraction. If you experience severe pain, inflammation and/or fever, during recovery, talk to your surgeon, as these may be signs of infection. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot protecting the extraction site either fails to form or gets dislodged, exposing the nerves and causing severe pain usually lasting about a week. If you experience the symptoms of dry socket, see your dentist for treatment to help with healing and avoid further complications. Click here for some tips on preventing dry sockets.

Wisdom Tooth Extraction for Older Adults

On occasion, wisdom teeth may wait until later in life to emerge, or they may not cause complications for years after emerging. Wisdom tooth extraction is generally as safe for older adults as it is for young people, but recovery times may take a bit longer, and your dentist may monitor the patient more closely for signs of complications. If you’re an older adult facing wisdom tooth extraction, here’s a bit more about what you need to know.

Wisdom tooth extraction is for most people a minor life interruption, but most enjoy better oral health after the procedure is performed. To learn more about whether wisdom tooth extraction is right for you, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.

The Patient’s Guide to Getting Dental Implants

Dont Be Affraid Of The DentistTo anyone struggling with significant oral health issues due to weak, damaged, displaced or missing teeth, the idea of getting dental implants can be daunting at first. How extensive or complicated is the process? What does the process entail? Will it hurt? How much will the implants cost? How long will the implants last? Are there other alternatives?

These concerns are completely natural, especially if you’ve never considered dental implants before. Because this topic raises so many questions (and because getting implants is, in fact, a big decision) we’ve put together this guide to help you navigate the process of deciding whether dental implants are right for you.

Considering Your Options

Dental implants aren’t the right move for everyone. Some people have a relatively healthy smile overall except for a couple of damaged teeth. For some, a simple crown or root canal might be a more appropriate solution at this time. Children present a whole other set of variables since their jaws are still developing. Start by educating yourself on all the alternatives to replacing lost teeth so you can make an informed decision about implants. Some helpful articles to get you started:

Choosing an Oral Surgeon

Once you have a better idea about dental implants, the next step is to choose a good oral surgeon in your area who can answer your questions further, advise you on your options and actually perform the implants — if he/she concurs it is the right choice for you. If you don’t already have an oral surgeon you trust, you might ask your dentist whom she recommends. You can also check local patient reviews and even ask friends and family about their own experiences. Find a good surgeon and clinic with plenty of experience and a history of good feedback.

Asking the Questions

Once you have selected an oral surgeon and have scheduled your first appointment, you should come to the consultation armed with the right questions to ask. For instance:

If you are still considering whether to entrust this procedure to this surgeon, the answers to these questions should help build trust. Feel free to ask about the surgeon’s experience, and even ask for references. Make sure this is the person you want to work with before moving forward.

Before, During and After

Once you’ve made the final determination to move forward with dental implants, it’s time to look at what to expect with the procedure itself. The following articles should provide some helpful insight:

There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty surrounding the idea of dental implants, but actually the procedure is far less intimidating than most patients realize — and most are extremely happy with the long-term results. Most importantly, implants provide a long-term solution to tooth loss. To learn more about whether dental implants are right for you, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.

Do You Have to Get Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?

The removal of wisdom teeth — the four outermost molars on the top and bottom of the jaw — is so common nowadays that many people assume it’s just something everyone has done. It’s almost considered a rite of passage into adulthood. But is it actually necessary? Do you really have to get your wisdom teeth removed, or is this just an unnecessary precaution? After all, aren’t these teeth a natural part of your growth?

In a perfect world, one in which evolution never made mistakes, no one would need their wisdom teeth removed. And in fact, there are times when it simply isn’t necessary. If the wisdom teeth are healthy and show up in their proper place, there may be no need to have them removed. However, the reality of life is that many people — if not most — will end up having one or more long-term complications if these molars are allowed to emerge. Wisdom teeth frequently push in toward the other teeth, causing them to shift and crowd out of place. If they get trapped under the gum, they can abscess and cause serious infections. If you’re not already having problems or experiencing pain, your dentist can usually foresee these complications by looking at X-rays of your mouth. In such cases, he/she may recommend having your wisdom teeth removed as a precaution, even if you’re not experiencing pain at the moment.

When Is Wisdom Tooth Removal Unnecessary?

You may have no need to have your wisdom teeth removed if:

  • They have fully emerged (or are likely to do so);
  • They are correctly positioned in the mouth without crowding other teeth;
  • They can be reached easily for regular cleaning and hygiene; and
  • Otherwise appear healthy without causing other problems.

When Is Wisdom Tooth Removal Recommended?

Your dentist may recommend wisdom tooth removal in the following situations:

  • If the teeth appear trapped beneath the gumline and cannot emerge;
  • If the teeth are improperly positioned, either above or below the gum line (for example, if they are set to press toward the other teeth);
  • If the teeth cannot fully emerge, making them more difficult to clean and keep healthy;
  • If there is a history of oral complications in your family from wisdom teeth; and/or
  • If you are already experiencing pain or symptoms.

Ultimately, the best way to know whether wisdom tooth removal is in your best interests is to consult with an experienced dentist. For an evaluation and to learn about your options, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.

5 Oral Issues Caused by Missing Teeth

If you have lost one or more teeth recently, you may well be tempted just to leave the gaps rather than replace the missing teeth. However, this choice can more than a few complications in the mouth later on, often cascading over one another. The potential problems are many, but for now, let’s look at five of the most common oral issues caused by missing teeth.

1. Teeth shifting in the mouth

Your teeth may feel immovable in your mouth, but the fact is your teeth are designed to rely on the other teeth in your mouth to hold them in place. When a missing tooth leaves a gap, the adjacent teeth can gradually drift to fill in space, affecting your smile and making it more difficult to chew your food.

2. Deteriorating jaw

Your teeth and jaw actually need a certain amount of opposing pressure and stimulation to stay strong and healthy. This stimulation comes from your natural bite and from chewing your food. When a missing tooth disrupts this interplay, your jaw can begin to shrink and break down, resulting in bone loss. This de-strengthening of the jaw can lead to many other problems and diseases.

3. Gum disease

Open gaps in the tooth line, combined with the moisture and warmth inside your mouth, create an optimal environment for harmful bacteria to begin growing along the gums and teeth. At best, this can result in painful irritation and inflammation from gingivitis; at worst, it can cause serious infections that if left untreated can cause more tooth damage and affect your quality of life.

4. Facial deformities

Your teeth do more than just help you chew food; they are part of the skeletal structure that gives your face its shape. When you leave gaps in your bite, especially with multiple missing teeth, your lips and skin won’t be supported properly and may begin to sag and droop. This, combined with bone deterioration, can cause facial deformities that affect the way you look and even the way you speak.

5. Further tooth loss

As part of the cascade effect from the previously mentioned oral problems, your remaining teeth themselves begin to lose support as they shift in the mouth, experience less support from the jaw and suffer from the effects of gum disease. Eventually, this may result in the loss of additional teeth, adding to the problem even more.

As you can see, leaving a gap from even one tooth can result in a series of unintended consequences, none of which are good for your overall oral health. The good news is that there are a number of solutions to replace missing teeth that can keep your smile and oral health intact. To learn more about these options, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.

How Late Can Wisdom Teeth Grow In?

The third molars, commonly known as “wisdom teeth,” are the last of our teeth to come in. They derive their nickname from the fact that for most of us, they come in (or “erupt”) as we are maturing into adults. The reality, however, is that sometimes they erupt much later, and sometimes not at all. Their appearance (or absence) may be based on a number of factors, including genetics, their position in the mouth, and even the shifting of other teeth in the mouth as we get older. As many as 35 percent of us don’t have wisdom teeth at all.

Why Are Wisdom Teeth Such an Issue?

Theories are abundant, but many scientists surmise that wisdom teeth are a holdover from our evolutionary ancestors. Back in the times when we survived on raw foods — roots, leaves, raw meat, etc. — it made sense to have three sets of molars in our mouths. Once we discovered fire and started cooking our food, we stopped needing that many teeth. Gradually our jawbones began narrowing, leaving less room for wisdom teeth to erupt. For some of us, our wisdom teeth come in naturally, correctly and properly positioned. More of us encounter problems in the mouth when wisdom teeth come in (or try unsuccessfully to erupt); in these cases, the wisdom teeth usually need to be removed to prevent complications. A few of us never see them. Some scientists predict eventually wisdom teeth will disappear entirely from our genetic code.

How Late Can Wisdom Teeth Appear?

For most people, wisdom teeth begin showing up between the ages of 17 and 25. However, many people don’t see them until later — sometimes much later. There have been reports of people seeing their wisdom teeth erupting as late as their 50s and 60s.

What If My Wisdom Teeth Don’t Come In “On Time”?

If you don’t see your wisdom teeth emerge by your mid-20s, don’t assume they won’t come in or that you don’t have any. Quite often, wisdom teeth remain below the surface of the gum and become impacted, meaning they have no room to erupt or that they are pushing inward against the other teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to serious problems down the line and should be extracted. Even if you are experiencing no pain or symptoms, impacted wisdom teeth could be doing damage in your mouth. A trusted dentist or oral surgeon can evaluate the status of your wisdom teeth with an examination and X-rays.

If you’re experiencing symptoms or have concerns about your wisdom teeth, we can help. Give Riverside Oral Facial Surgery a call at (706) 235-5570 to discuss your options.

Can Children Get Dental Implants?

As many parents already know, children are not immune to tooth loss or the problems associated with it. The loss of baby teeth is natural, of course, and their teeth will soon replace them. But what if an accident, tooth decay or gum disease causes one of these new teeth to be lost? Can these teeth be replaced? Are dental implants an option for children?

Unfortunately, the answer is not so simple. Children are not good candidates for dental implants, at least not until well into their teen years. Let’s explain.

Developing Jawbones

A child’s jawbone continues to grow and develop from childhood through adolescence. Even though permanent teeth grow in during this time, they are able to shift and develop with the growing jawbone in a way that implants cannot. If a child receives a dental implant too early, it can affect the growth of the jawbone itself and adversely affect how the new teeth come in, causing all sorts of unwanted long-term complications. For these reasons, an oral surgeon will not recommend dental implants until the jawbone is fully developed.

At What Age Is It Safe to Get Dental Implants?

The answer to this question often depends on the child himself/herself as well as the opinion of the oral surgeon. Some have suggested minimum ages of 15 for girls and 17 for boys; however, sometimes the jawbone continues growing all the way up to ages 18-20. Thus, to be safe, it’s usually best to wait until at least age 18 before considering dental implants.

Alternatives in the Meantime

Implants aren’t a good option for children, but that doesn’t mean tooth loss shouldn’t still be addressed. Missing teeth in the mouth can cause complications in children the same as in adults, not to mention the effect it can have on their self-esteem. If your child lost a baby tooth prematurely, it’s likely safe enough just to wait until the permanent tooth grows in unless your dentist indicates otherwise. If a permanent tooth is lost, the surgeon may recommend a more temporary solution like dentures, which can be refitted and adjusted as the jawbone grows, until the jawbone is fully developed and implants become an option. If your child needs braces, the orthodontist might also attach an artificial tooth to the braces to keep the other teeth in place.

Tooth loss can be a challenge for kids as well as adults, but there are solutions available to restore your child’s smile and give you peace of mind. To learn more, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.

Dental Implant Questions to Ask Your Georgia Oral Surgeon

full arch restorationFor many patients suffering from tooth loss, dental implants are a permanent solution that restores their smile and can last a lifetime with proper care. That said, dental implants require oral surgery that comes with minimal risk and at least a brief disruption to your schedule — not to mention implants should only be placed by a skilled surgeon. If you live in Georgia and are thinking about getting dental implants, here are some important questions to ask your Georgia oral surgeon.

What does a dental implant procedure entail?

Your surgeon should discuss the entire procedure with you from beginning to end, detailing every step from preparatory work to sedation, to temporary teeth and the implants themselves. Make sure you understand the steps so there are no surprises when the surgery begins.

How many visits will this procedure require?

Most implant surgeries consist of at least two procedures — one to install the posts into the jawbone (covering them with temporary prosthetics) and one to install the permanent implants onto the posts once they’ve fused with the bone. Typically, these visits are several months apart. However, be sure to ask your surgeon about the number of visits required, as well as recovery times after each visit.

How much experience do you have with this procedure?

Don’t be embarrassed to ask this question. It may seem like you’re challenging the surgeon’s expertise in this area, but a skilled surgeon will actually welcome the question. The more successful procedures the surgeon has performed, the more confidence you can have in his/her abilities.

Have you been specifically trained in dental implant procedures?

In tandem with the previous question, you might be a little shy about asking this one, but don’t be. The fact is, implants are a specialized skill and not every dental school offers this training — yet an oral surgeon may be legally allowed to perform it even without the training. It’s your mouth, so ask the question, and make sure you’re satisfied with the answer before agreeing to the procedure.

What will the implants cost?

Dental implants are an investment in your oral health, and they are more expensive than other solutions like crowns and dentures. However, with proper care, they can outlast all other solutions and actually be more cost-effective in the long run. Ask your surgeon to detail the costs of the procedure, including the costs spread over the life expectancy of the implants. Find out if any part of the procedure is covered by insurance, and find out whether payment plans are available. Chances are your surgeon can help you find a way to afford the implants, but understanding the costs and benefits beforehand will give you greater peace of mind going into the procedure.

For any other questions about dental implants, we are here to help. Give Riverside Oral Facial Surgery a call at (706) 235-5570.

7 Types of Dental Prostheses

Dental implantThe rows of teeth in our mouth have something of a symbiotic relationship; they don’t just exist to help us chew our food, but they also rely on each other to maintain the mouth’s shape and function. When a person experiences tooth loss or needs one or more teeth removed, it leaves a gap in the tooth line that can cause many different types of complications unless the gap is filled. The remaining teeth may drift, making it more difficult to chew and distorting the person’s smile, even changing the structure of the face. There is also at greater risk of infection, disease, tooth decay and further tooth loss. For this reason, oral surgeons and dentists highly recommend filling the gap with one of a variety of dental prostheses.

What is a dental prosthesis?

A dental prosthesis is considered any oral object or device installed in the mouth to reconstruct the natural structure of the teeth, either to replace missing teeth, replace parts of missing teeth or prevent tooth loss — to restore function and to help keep other teeth in their place. In this manner, a dental prosthetic is very much like any other type of prosthetic you might use for a missing body part, like a prosthetic arm or leg. Depending on the type and function, a dental prosthetic can be either fixed or removable. Let’s look at seven different types of dental prostheses and how they are used.

1. Crowns

A crown is a dental cap designed to fit over a broken or damaged tooth that could otherwise be lost or cause infection. The existing tooth and parts of nearby teeth may be ground down to make room for the crown, and if necessary, a root canal will be performed on the damaged tooth. A crown is a fixed prosthetic that when installed will restore the tooth to its proper function. Crowns wear out over time and may eventually be replaced.

2. Bridges

A bridge is designed to fill the gap left between teeth by one or more missing teeth. The bridge is affixed by caps over the adjacent teeth (called “Bridge”), which must be prepped and may be ground down to support the bridge itself. An impression will be taken off the abutments after prepping them so the caps can be molded to match the shape of those teeth when the bridge is installed.

3. Inlays/Onlays

Inlays and onlays are fixed prosthetics used to repair and restore an existing tooth that is decayed, cracked or damaged, effectively restoring the tooth’s shape and function. Inlays and onlays are constructed of harder material like metal or a composite substance; they are created in a lab and are usually used to replace an old filling with a more permanent solution. Inlays reconstruct part of a tooth, while onlays are larger and effectively reconstruct the cusp of the tooth.

4. Veneers

Dental veneers are thin, porcelain shells designed to fit atop existing teeth (usually the front teeth). They serve a primarily cosmetic function and are usually used to cover discolored or chipped teeth to restore an attractive smile. Veneers are permanent prosthetics that bond to the front of the teeth.

5. Partial Dentures

A partial denture is a reconstruction designed to fill in the gaps for several missing teeth. An impression is taken of the patient’s mouth and a framework is devised with false teeth (dentures) affixed to replace the missing teeth. When installed properly, the framework fits snugly in the mouth to replicate the full set of teeth. Partial dentures are removable and must be kept clean to prevent infections. Patients with partial dentures may also need to avoid certain foods. (nuts, sesame seeds, etc.)

6. Full Dentures

When the entire top or bottom arch of teeth (or both top and bottom) is completely missing or needs to be extracted, a set of full dentures may be created to replace those teeth. Full dentures are removable, typically worn during the day using an adhesive and removed and cleaned at night. Dentures are more affordable than some other dental prosthetic options, but they don’t solve all problems. Without permanent replacement teeth, the patient will experience bone loss in the jaw.

7. Dental Implants

While dental implants are the most expensive among the dental prostheses, they are also the most permanent and long-lasting solution for patients with missing teeth. Implants are fixed prosthetics that can replace a single tooth, several teeth, an entire row or a complete set of teeth. Implants are installed in two stages: First, titanium posts are implanted into the jaw bone where the natural teeth used to be. The posts bond to the jaw over several months, at which time the permanent prosthetic teeth are created. When the posts are ready, the dentist installs the permanent teeth on the implanted posts. When finished, these implants look and act like your natural teeth, and with proper dental care can last for many years without replacement — often for the remainder of the patient’s life.

As you can see, there are many types of dental prostheses, and not every solution is right for everyone. To discuss your options, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.

How Long Will I Be Out of Work After Oral Surgery?

Initial ConsultationLike any other surgical procedure, oral surgery requires a bit of recovery “down time.” Almost all oral procedures are outpatient, meaning you can go home the same day, but many patients understandably ask, “How long will I be out of work after oral surgery?” The answer to that question is slightly different for everyone and depends on a number of factors, including the scope of the procedure and the type of work you do.

General Recovery Guidelines

Under normal circumstances, most oral surgery patients should be able to resume their normal routine, including their job, within a couple of days after the procedure. We highly recommend that you go home and rest for the first 24 hours. Have someone drive you home, especially if you were given a sedative during the procedure. Avoid strenuous activities or heavy lifting, as these can disrupt clotting in your mouth and cause bleeding. Barring any complications, you should be ready to return to work in about 48 hours to 72 hours.

Factors that May Affect Your Return to Work

On occasion, we may recommend you take a little extra time out of the office (up to 1 week) after your surgery. This can hinge on a number of different factors.

Extent of the Surgery

If you had a single tooth extraction, a root canal procedure or something at that level, chances are your recovery time will be quick, and you’ll feel ready to return to work in 24 hours. However, if you had all four wisdom teeth pulled or began the process for complete dental implants, the trauma of those procedures may require another couple of days of down time to recover.

Complications

If there are complications during the surgery that extend your time in the operating room or increase the amount of surgical trauma, you may need additional time to recover. Also, post-surgery complications like excessive bleeding, unusual amounts of pain or infection may affect your ability to perform your job. If you get medical attention for these issues, the extra down time shouldn’t be more than a few days.

The Nature of Your Job

Sometimes, the type of work you do can actually affect your recommended recovery time. If you work in construction, industry or some other job requiring strenuous work or heavy lifting, you may need to wait an additional few days to ensure you don’t open up the surgical wounds. Additionally, you may experience swelling and discoloration in your face for several days after the procedure, so if your job hinges on your physical appearance (e.g., actor or model), you may need to wait a few more days before resuming work.

We are happy to answer any other questions you might have about your recovery times out of work after oral surgery. Give Riverside Oral Facial Surgery a call at (706) 235-5570.

Should I Get a Dental Implant or Root Canal?

Asking Cosmetic Surgeon QuestionsWhen a tooth is severely decayed or damaged, dental patients commonly ask, “Should I get a dental implant or a root canal?” Left untreated, the damaged tooth can continue to cause extreme pain as well as create further complications in the mouth. Should you have your dentist or endodontist perform a root canal to save the tooth, or is it simply better to remove the tooth and replace it with an implant?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem; every case is different, and your dental health professional can discuss the details of your situation to help you decide which route is best for you. For now, let’s begin by describing and comparing both procedures, then discussing a few of the pros and cons of each.

What Is a Root Canal Procedure?

When a tooth is seriously damaged, dead or dying (whether due to a cavity or a broken tooth), the soft tissue (pulp) inside the tooth is compromised and typically infected. This pulp initially helps your teeth to grow and strengthen, but once a tooth is mature, the pulp provides hydration and sensation to the tooth. During a root canal procedure, the Dentist/Endodontist cleans out the infected pulp from the tooth and its roots, hollowing out the infected space. He then fills the open space with a biocompatible substance and sealant. Afterward, because the root canal leaves the tooth weakened and vulnerable, the doctor will cover the tooth with a permanent crown. The result is that the natural tooth is saved and protected, and the crown will function like a normal tooth. However, root canals are not permanent and may fail within a few months to years later.

What is a Dental Implant Procedure?

As an alternative to performing a root canal to save a dying tooth, your oral surgeon may also recommend extracting the tooth and replacing with a permanent dental implant. This procedure occurs in two stages. First, your oral surgeon will remove the bad tooth, clean out the affected area, bone graft the socket and maybe install a titanium post into your jaw bone in place of the tooth. A temporary tooth may be installed over the post. You will then be sent home to wait while the titanium post bonds to the jaw, during which time your permanent tooth will be manufactured. Several months later, you will return to the dentist to have your permanent implant affixed to the titanium post. Your new implant will function exactly like your natural tooth once did, and with proper care it can last a lifetime.

Pros and Cons of a Dental Implant versus a Root Canal

Is it better to get a root canal or a dental implant? There are advantages and disadvantages to each. From a pure standpoint of oral health, most dental professionals agree it’s best to save a natural tooth, if possible; on the other hand, keeping a natural tooth is not always worth the risk of recurring problems that could be prevented by removing it. Let’s look briefly at the pros and cons of both procedures.

Root canal pros

  • Keeps the natural tooth: In cases where the damage is not severe, this may be the best option.
  • Less expensive procedure: Root canals cost less than implants, and they are covered by most insurance plans.
  • Less intrusive: The root canal and installing the permanent crown can happen over a couple of visits, and the entire procedure is complete within a couple of weeks.

Root canal cons

  • Not a permanent solution: Crowns wear out and must be replaced every few years, which can actually cause the overall cost to go up over time.
  • Risk of root canal failure: Root canal treatments don’t always work, and if your problem resurfaces, you’ll have to go through the procedure again.

Dental implant pros

  • Permanent solution: Once the implant is in place, it looks and acts like a natural tooth, and with proper care it can last as long as your other natural teeth.
  • Removes the threat: The damaged tooth is permanently removed so it can no longer cause other complications to your gums, jaw or other teeth. Implants preserve bone as well.

Dental implant cons:

  • More invasive: The entire procedure takes at least two surgeries and several months to complete.
  • More expensive: Not only is the procedure itself more costly than a root canal, but many insurance plans don’t cover implants, resulting in higher out-of-pocket costs.

Which Procedure Is Right for You?

In determining whether you should get a dental implant or a root canal, your oral surgeon will evaluate the particulars of your damaged tooth and discuss with you the risks versus benefits of keeping your natural tooth intact. If cost and insurance is a factor, you may want to choose the root canal procedure; if the tooth is beyond saving or if you simply want to eliminate the threat completely, a dental implant is the next best thing to a natural tooth, and many people prefer it because it resolves the problem permanently. To discuss your options, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.