There is so many advertisements on the tv and radio that are talking about implants. Implants are a great tool to replace a broken tooth, or teeth, that can not be restored. With so much emphasis on implants lately, patients often forget that our main goal is to try to save your teeth, not just pull them for implants. When you break a tooth, you come in and we will give it a thorough evaluation. Assuming there is enough healthy tooth to work with, and there is no major periodontal (gum) problems to compromise things, we are likely to present you with options to save your broken tooth. Treatments like root canals, posts, and crowns have been performed for a long time with a great deal of success.
A tooth that is broken close to the gumline can often be treated with a root canal to clean and sterilize the hollow space within your tooth where the nerve normally exists. By doing a root canal, the tooth is no longer vital (alive) and this will allow us to treat or prevent infections, but it will also allow us to save the tooth. All soft tissues within the tooth, whether alive,necrotic, infected or missing, will be removed using small files to clean out and shape the inside of the tooth..We then treat the inside of the tooth with sterilizing chemicals and then pack the inside of this canal system with a rubbery material called "gutta percha" and some sort of sealant material. Root canal treatments have been around for a long time and are very safe and effective. You may have heard the horror stories of root canal treatment of the past, but most often, root canal treatment is not as bad as those stories you may have heard. Of course, there are still occasions where things don't go as smoothly as we would want as far as discomfort goes, but more often than not, the amount of discomfort is minimal and controlled easily with over the counter pain medicines.
Once the root canal is completed we can begin the restorative process. For teeth broken off at the gumline, we will need to do something that will allow us to place a crown on the tooth when we finish. What we often do in these cases is to take out some of the root canal sealing material and we then fabricate a post to insert into the tooth. This post can either be one that is pre fabricated like a screw, or something that we custom make and cast to either a metal or zirconia. Attached to the post is often a "buildup" that is a material that is there to replace what was broken off so that we can attach a crown to the tooth. Cast metal posts have the post and core buildup in one piece of metal. The same holds true for zirconia. When we use prefabricated posts, they are usually either a metal or a fiberglass post that is inserted into the canal, and a filling material is placed around the post and above the gumline. There are different reasons for each material selection and we try to choose the best fit for your mouth.
Once we cement the post into the tooth, it will mimic the shape of a tooth that was cut down for a crown to be made. We make sure everything is the right size and shape and take impressions to have a crown made. Again, the type of crown material differs and we select the best for your mouth. We have the crown made and it is cemented over the post and core material, and it will look just like a tooth (unless we are using gold and then it will look like a gold tooth).
So, we still do the tried and true treatments that have been around for a long time. They may not be as "cool" to talk about as implant tooth replacement may seem, but they are an effective -ay to save your broken tooth and hopefully give it years and years of service in the future. And -f you have dental insurance, these treatments are usually part of the coverage package, while implant treatment is quite often completely an out of pocket expense. If you have a broken tooth, give us a call at 708-448-0273 and come in for a consultation. We will take xrays and photos and give you an honest opinion on what can be done, and what the prose and cons of the various options are. We will always try to do what is best for our patients and we always make sure our patients are part of the decision making process for their treatment.