How Long Can I Wait for a Dental Implant?

I have a tooth where decay grew under the crown. My dentist doesn’t feel he can get it all out and recommended I see an oral surgeon to pull the tooth and then come back for a dental bridge. I’m not too keen on that so I’m thinking of seeing someone else about the decay. I’ve also been doing some research and it looks like a dental implant will be a better option for replacing a missing tooth. I’ve got fairly new dental insurance which has six more months of a waiting period before I can get any coverage for work done. If I pull this tooth, how long can I wait before there are problems?

Catherine

Dear Catherine,

illustraition of a dental implant next to natural teeth

I’m going to be blunt and tell you that you are not being well served by your dentist. Most skilled dentists will do everything possible to save a tooth. What does he mean he can’t get all the decay out? Has he tried and failed? Based on what you said, he didn’t even bother trying.

Next, he suggested a dental bridge instead of a dental implant. Your research is correct. Yes, it is a much better tooth replacement than a bridge. The one exception to that would be if the adjacent teeth already need dental crowns. If they don’t, then you are just grinding down healthy tooth structure.

I’m sorry, but this dentist seems too willing to get rid of teeth. You can do better. I’m going to highly recommend you get a second opinion on this tooth.

Don’t Wait before Getting a Dental Implant

If, after getting a second opinion, it turns out the tooth cannot be saved, I wouldn’t recommend waiting more than a week or two (at the most) with that space empty. The teeth around it will start to drift or tip into the space, making a replacement difficult.

In fact, it can lead to serious bite problems, which can cause TMJ Disorder. Just like cleaning out the tooth properly with a root canal treatment before getting your original dental crown would have saved you the problems you are facing now, making sure that space is kept open will save you a lot of pain down the road.

I’d recommend something simple and inexpensive, such as a dental flipper, to hold the space for you until your insurance will cover your dental implant. Truthfully, even if you received the implant today you’d need a temporary tooth anyway. The site where the implant is placed needs both time to heal and for the bone to integrate around the implant before it can support an implant crown anyway, so this isn’t an unnecessary step.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.