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I have to have either a root canal or implant in the first molar on the left side, bottom. There is no molar behind it, and I am wondering if there is a “snap on” smile version that would be less expensive, invasive and will allow me to cover the empty space, should I decide to have the tooth pulled?
– Beth from Washington
Having the tooth pulled and replaced with a Snap-On Smile would be the worst of several options for treating your infected tooth.
Let me go through your options and their pros and cons.
You’re telling me that there is no molar behind your first molar. So you’ve already lost your second molar. Losing your first molar would leave you with no molars on your left side. I guess if you’re planning on going on a soft or liquid diet you won’t need to chew, but you really need something there. A Snap-On Smile is a temporary tooth replacement solution designed to help you, say, get through a job interview or a social function and look like you have teeth. It isn’t a functional replacement for molars. It isn’t very durable and isn’t all that cheap, either. The least expensive functional tooth replacement would be a removable partial denture.
But any type of appliance you put in your mouth that is removable and designed to be a functional tooth replacement is going to be much more stable if you have teeth in the back to anchor it. Imagine having a table that has legs only in the middle and on one of the ends, as I have pictured below. This is called a cantilever and isn’t very stable.
This is like the situation you are creating in your mouth when you lose these back teeth. When you try to attach a tooth appliance onto the front teeth and expect it to replace back teeth, it’s not very stable. In addition, it creates a twisting force on the teeth that are supporting it, which can lead to the early loss of those teeth. There are partial dentures that are designed to absorb the stress with the soft tissue on your ridge, but they would require clasping other teeth, too, probably going on to the other side of your mouth.
The root canal treatment makes the most sense because that saves your own natural tooth. Being a molar, the tooth would likely need a crown also. But there are people who argue that a dental implant is a very predictable solution also. The root canal and the crown would be less expensive, though. To me, it’s a no-brainer to save your tooth.
– Dr. Hall
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About David A. Hall
Dr. David A. Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does advanced internet marketing for dentists.