Can I wait to get a dental implant?

I have a tooth that has to come out. I’ve seen two different dentists (my regular dentist and a endodontist) and they both say that it can’t be saved, because there is decay below the gumline. I don’t have any kind of dental insurance, and I’d like to wait a while to save up the cost for the dental implant. Is there a limit on how long I can wait to get this procedure done?

Lily in Ann Arbor

Dear Lily,

If possible, you should not delay this any longer than is necessary for the socket to heal from the infection. The reason for this is that as soon as a tooth is removed, the teeth that surround it begin to move to close the gap, and the opposing tooth (the corresponding tooth in the opposite jaw) will begin to super-erupt to meet a tooth that is no longer there. These are all natural tooth movements that happen because our teeth shift to”touch their neighbors” when a tooth is removed.

These movements can cause changes in your bite that can result in serious problems. Headaches and TMJ disorders can result, and the longer the situation continues, the more lengthy and expensive the healing process will be.

As soon as your socket is healed, you should get the root form for the dental implant placed. This will probably take several weeks to heal, so in the meantime you will need some kind of temporary denture appliance such as a dental flipper to keep the surrounding teeth from shifting. Think of it as a sort of dental place holder.

Columbus dentist Dr. Carroll supports this blog as a source of clear, accurate dental information.

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