We learn through experience. Whether you’re the patient or the dental provider. There are times in our lives and career, where we don’t know what we don’t know until science, research and education teaches us. Extraction Retraction Regret is a prime example.
Excluding our wisdom teeth, we have 14 teeth on the top and 14 teeth on the bottom. We are intended to have these! When aligned correctly, they fit together just right, whether we are at rest or chewing. These teeth support our jaws and bone. If you remove a tooth on one arch or if you’re missing a tooth on one arch and braces are used to shift teeth to close that space, the arch that was shifted no longer aligns with the other. How can it? You have fewer teeth on one arch than you do the other. Take a minute to think about this. Unless you remove the exact same tooth on the opposing arch, your teeth will not come together the way they are intended.
So what’s the big deal? In the past few decades and even today, sadly, some dentists recommend that perfectly healthy teeth be extracted to help with alignment and crowding. But, wait, if we’re supposed to have 14 teeth on the bottom and 14 teeth on the top, excluding our wisdom teeth, why does a tooth have to be extracted? It doesn’t! Your teeth and jaws are a matrix that are designed to fit together and support a host of other functions. Other times, a dentist may move, retract, an arch too far, creating an over bite or under bite.
Your teeth can be aligned without unnecessary extractions!
Today, we have a better understanding of the long term affects of those decisions to remove a healthy tooth and shift teeth to close the space (also known Extraction Retraction). Below are some of the potential long term outcomes of extracting and retracting teeth for the purposes of creating room to allow teeth to align. These include:
- sleep apnea or sleep disruption;
- upper airway resistance syndrome (UAS) which leads to a host of other major dental and medical complications;
- worn down teeth;
- open bite (when you bite down, your upper and lower teeth don’t touch in the back);
- under bite (when you bite down, your upper front teeth are behind your lower front teeth);
- over bite (when you bite down, your upper front teeth cover most of your lower front teeth);
- jaw/mouth pain;
- clicking/popping of the jaw when you chew; and
This doesn’t even touch on the emotional or cosmetic impact this can have your life. Unfortunately, the practice of removing teeth is still recommended by some dentists. A quick side note: a patient can experience some of these same issues even if teeth aren’t extracted but because the teeth /arch are out of alignment. Our recommendation is still the same: seek other opinions before you extract any teeth. Seek an experienced dentist and look at before and after photos of their orthodontic outcomes.
The two exceptions to this recommendation are the removal of wisdom teeth and the removal of an infected tooth that cannot be saved.
Reversing Previous Extraction Retraction Ortho That Retracted Teeth & Arch (our of alignment)
We see patients all the time, who have undergone this treatment and now suffer from these long term affects of that decision. This is known as Extraction Retraction Regret Syndrome. It’s not your fault. Nonetheless you regret having teeth extracted for your orthodontics.
Our goals as your dentist are to save your teeth and have a positive impact on your health. We are experienced in aligning teeth without extracting them and reversing previous Extraction Retraction ortho. We are also experienced at helping patients realign their teeth and jaws. We often help patients move teeth back to their natural position or move the arch back into alignment. We do a thorough exam and xrays to evaluate how best we can treat this and get you back to a normal, healthy state or as close to it as possible.
What should you do if you’ve been told to have a healthy tooth extracted?
If your teeth are crowded, rotated, flared, protruded, whatever the case is, and a dentist advises teeth should be extracted, seek a second opinion. Seek a third opinion, if necessary, to be sure. If your arch sits too far back or too far forward or your jaws are out of alignment and you need surgery, seek a second opinion or a third opinion.
Dental treatments can result in long term, unanticipated affects on your mouth and also on your complete health. Believe it or not, NOT every dentist has a vast understanding of the ripple effects of dental treatments. The best thing you can do for yourself is to have a consultation or two. The information in this blog should help you to ask the right questions of your provider. Research and look at before and after photos. Find a dentist who can fully answer all of your questions and concerns.
We want you to live your best life with a healthy smile!