When your dentist told you that you are suffering from serious tooth decay, what he or she was really saying was, "We'll be getting to know each other quite well in the next few months." You might have already sensed that something was "off" before your visit, like tooth sensitivity to hot or cold drinks and gums that bleed during brushing. After this visit, you are going to need more than a simple filling for your cavity.
Pulling Your Tooth Isn't Really Cheaper
Even with dental coverage, you may be billed close to a thousand dollars for a root canal and crown. When you are short on funds, you might feel like having a badly damaged tooth pulled for a couple hundred bucks is your only option.
The reason having your tooth pulled isn't really cheaper, is because you may need to have a dental implant at some point down the road to prevent bone loss in your jaw. Bone loss in your jaw can lead to further tooth loss as well as major transformations in your facial appearance.
Dental implants are wonderful for restoring your smile and helping to encourage bone healing. When you have a dental implant performed, the dentist implants a post in your jaw. Once that post has been allowed to heal, he or she then screws in a permanent crown to the post.
Sometimes bone loss becomes significant enough that your dentist needs to perform bone grafting before a post can be implanted. Here is some good news concerning bone regrowth: A newly discovered "tooth protein" may be the answer to regrowth of bone deterioration. This synthetic grafting would less invasive than traditional grafting, but you will still need to fix the cause of your jaw deterioration. (Without an endless supply of the protein, you will still need to have an implant to end the negative effects of the tooth you had pulled.)
Want to know how much the average dental implant costs? Costhelper Health says you can expect to pay anywhere from $1000-5000 for your dental implant. Your personal scenario will impact your actual cost though. Tack on the average $2500 cost of an implant to the couple hundred bucks you spent pulling your tooth, and you will see how much more money is involved replacing a tooth than saving an existing one.
While your dental insurance may cover 50% of the cost to pay for your root canal and crown, they are unlikely to pay anything for your implant. It is still viewed as a cosmetic procedure by many insurance companies, so you probably need a coinsurance policy to ensure any coverage at all for your dental implant. That means paying more money in dental premiums to have a dental implant surgery.
Never Avoid Treating the Tooth
Bottom line: If your tooth is in bad shape, you need to have it treated. Ignoring the situation will not benefit you (or your other teeth if the decay spreads), so communicate your concerns with your dentist. He or she may be able to offer you financing for the dental services you need. Perhaps your dentist can offer you a temporary crown as a way of buying you time to work out your money situation. Be honest with your dentist about your concerns so that your dentist can work with you.
If your only viable solution right now is to have your tooth pulled, then you should have the tooth pulled. Plan to have the dental implant needed to minimize damage to your jaw bone sooner rather than later though, so you can still minimize the expense of your dental implant. When your dentist told you that you are suffering from serious tooth decay, what he or she was really saying was, "We'll be getting to know each other quite well in the next