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The State of Saving Teeth

June 24, 2015
facebook image share Dr.Shah interviewed for Spring 2014 AAE Focus Newsletter

In the summer of 2014 the American Association of Endodontists collaborated with the American College of Prosthodontists and the American Academy of Periodontology to discuss the importance of saving our natural teeth.

At the two-day event, clinicians from every specialty spoke regarding the benefits of preserving our natural teeth and the repercussions if we don’t. They delved into the importance of the retention of our natural dentition and how keeping our natural teeth is vital for overall and future oral health.

Their discussion led them into the problems associated with implants versus keeping our natural teeth. One issue with the use of an implant instead of retaining the natural tooth is that it will likely lead to multiple implants throughout your life. The specialists at the event spoke on how important it was to maintain oral health and restore natural teeth between the second decade of life and to continue through the following six decades. These are the years when restorative dental health is most vital and important, and also the years when you want to avoid an implant.

Dr. Markus Blatz, a professor of dentistry and chairman of the department of preventive and restorative sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, argued, “Protecting the natural dentition by conservative endodontic treatment was critical for tooth retention through these decades. And even if patients incur tooth loss and require an implant later in life, it would be preferable to place that implant just once in a patient’s lifetime.”

This means that while implants may be needed later on down the line, they are not necessarily the answer earlier on in your life. That is because, the earlier you get an implant, the higher the risk that you may need to have it replaced within your lifetime. If you need to get an implant, it is better to get one then have to endure multiple implants.

Periodontists at the event explained how periodontal health was also crucial during those decades and how natural teeth were the key to maintaining that health. The evidence given explained that, “If implants are chosen as an option early in life for patients with chronic periodontitis and other risk factors that may have contributed to the periodontal disease, these same risk factors can most certainly continue to cause peri-implantitis and bone-loss in those same patients.” If that happens, then it just increases their risk of needing multiple implants.

This evidence explains that implants are not always the answer. Doing restorative therapies on your natural teeth, such as root canal therapy, is key to prolonged oral health. The goal is to have our teeth for a lifetime, and by doing root canals to keep the natural tooth, we are getting closer to that goal.

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