Once a tooth is lost, many people delay replacing it right away with a dental implant for two main reasons: expense and fear. People often worry about the price of the procedures, and others delay it because of fear of surgery and recovery time. An additional reason we sometimes hear from patients for postponing it is because they feel like they are not able to take the time to do it. Although these may seem like viable reasons and feelings, it’s important to aware of the possible complications.
Waiting too long to get a procedure done puts the site of the missing tooth and the neighboring teeth at more risk. Over time, our teeth will drift toward any open spaces they have and the longer you wait, the worse your teeth positions will be. The adjacent teeth will drift toward the open space, as will the teeth above or below the space. In a case where the back molars are missing, the adjacent teeth are likely to tilt in diagonally. This can result in the need for Orthodontic treatment in order to correct their position and make room once again for the implants.
Postponing implant placement is also something to avoid at all costs.
Another problem waiting presents us with is bone loss where the tooth once was. Once a tooth is removed, the bone deteriorates and shrinks away in that site. So, when a tooth is removed and there is still bone in the space, that’s the time to place the implant. There’s an unpredictable window of time where there IS still enough bone to place an implant, and that window of time is not the same for everyone. Some people’s bone shrinks away very quickly, and others, at a slower pace. But it WILL shrink away. THAT, you can be certain of.
Additionally, the bone loss affects the teeth next to it, as their roots become exposed. This can cause a variety of problems ranging from root decay to tooth loss. (Roots are not protected by enamel, like the crowns/tops of our teeth are. This makes them extremely susceptible to cavities.)
The improvement in current techniques and the extensive training of our doctors at The Dental Implant Center make everything both easier and more predictable for our patients. The less time you wait, the simpler, more predictable, less expensive, and less traumatic experience you will have with the procedure.
Complications From Putting Off Tooth Extraction
Oftentimes, the time when a dental implant is recommended – is when a tooth goes bad, is rendered “non-restorable”, and the treatment plan prescribed for this is an extraction and implant. This is a point where many people who fully understand the above reasons (drifting of adjacent teeth and bone loss in the area) will just put off treatment altogether, and “plan to do it all” at a time in the future. Unless a tooth is so painful, they just HAVE to have it taken out immediately, sometimes, people will put the whole treatment off. Again, the main reasons they cite for this are fear, expense, and time.
When people wait to get implants, oftentimes what could have been a single extraction, becomes a multiple tooth extraction. This, once again, will be a more extensive, expensive, and painful surgery than had you come in sooner. If a tooth is missing for as little as 12 months with no implant put in its place, bone loss can occur to the point where the need for additional surgical procedures like a sinus lift or bone graft will become necessary.
Save Yourself the Time & Money
Since we want our teeth to provide us with strong chewing ability as we age AND last us a lifetime, we really need to try and think further ahead than the “now”. To begin with the end in mind, if you will. Understanding all the ramifications and future potential situations, can help you think through planning the best course and seek help in whatever the reason may be that you are putting it off.
If it’s cost: Look into financing (*see our financing options here)
If it’s fear: Consider IV sedation or oral sedation for the procedure
If it’s time: Look into what you need to do to free up enough time to make it happen and plan it out in advance.