Dentists will always try to save a tooth when it’s possible, but teeth that are too badly damaged may need to be removed to maintain your oral health.

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If you notice a problem with any of your teeth, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible. They will examine your teeth and gums and discuss possible treatments to restore your bite and your smile.

However, if a tooth is severely damaged, your dentist may not be able to save it. In these cases, they will normally recommend that the tooth be removed.

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Dentists may recommend removal in the following circumstances:

  • Dental injury resulting in a cracked or fractured tooth or root
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Severe or recurring infection
  • Wisdom tooth problems
  • As part of a larger treatment plan

Dental injuries

When Is It Too Late to Save a Tooth-injuries

Teeth can be cracked, fractured or knocked out altogether for various reasons, including:

  • Sporting injuries
  • Trips and falls
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Fights

A damaged or broken tooth is considered a dental emergency. You should contact us immediately for advice and to book an appointment as soon as possible, depending on your situation.

Dentists are usually able to repair a chipped or cracked tooth using treatments such as bonding or by placing a crown, but a more severely damaged tooth may need to be removed to avoid causing further problems.

You can lower your risk of incurring a serious dental injury during contact sports and other activities by wearing a custom-fitted sports mouthguard provided by your dentist.

Severe tooth decay

When Is It Too Late to Save a Tooth-severe-infection

Tooth decay is the most common dental problem in Australia. It happens when bacteria build up on the teeth in a sticky yellow layer of plaque and release acids that wear down their surface. Untreated tooth decay can lead to cavities and other damage over time.

Most cavities can be treated with a filling if you see a dentist in time. A more severely decayed tooth may need a larger restoration, such as a crown or root canal therapy, or it may need to be removed.

Tooth decay can be prevented by maintaining a good daily oral hygiene routine and your regular dental visits. Regular 6-monthly check-ups also improve the chance of problems such as tooth decay being caught earlier, when they are easier to treat.

Gum disease

Gum disease is also caused by bacteria in the form of plaque building up on teeth and under the gum line. In its early stages, gum disease can be reversed by brushing and flossing your teeth.

However, when gum disease is left to advance, bacteria may start to attack and weaken the gum tissue causing it to pull away from teeth and leaving pockets for bacteria to breed. At this point teeth may begin to loosen and the jaw bone may deteriorate.

If caught early enough, your dentist would usually recommend periodontal treatment to help manage the condition. If gum disease is left untreated and has severely weakened surrounding teeth, the affected teeth may need to be removed.

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Severe or recurring tooth infection

When Is It Too Late to Save a Tooth-infection-root-canal

If tooth decay or other damage reaches the centre of a tooth, this can expose the soft tissues of the tooth pulp to infection. Without treatment, an infected tooth may be extremely painful and could lead to more serious complications.

If you visit your dentist with symptoms of an infection, or this is identified during your routine check-up, dentists will normally be able to clean and remove the infected tooth pulp and save the tooth by performing root canal therapy.

Nowadays, root canal therapy is no more painful than having a filling placed and takes approximately an hour to complete. After root canal therapy, a crown is placed to reinforce and strengthen the tooth, protecting it from any further damage.

The only alternative to root canal therapy is to remove an infected tooth, to prevent the infection from spreading. This may be necessary if the tooth is not able to be saved, or if an infection comes back.

Wisdom tooth problems

When Is It Too Late to Save a Tooth-wisdom-tooth-problems

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt, usually in the late teen years or early adulthood. While most wisdom teeth come through normally, they are more prone than other teeth to developing problems.

If a wisdom tooth is trapped in the gum (impacted) or grows in at the wrong angle, this can be painful and may lead to infections or other problems, such as pushing the surrounding teeth out of alignment.

Dentists usually recommend wisdom teeth removal to treat an impacted or partially erupted tooth and prevent further complications. Some wisdom tooth problems may be treated by making a small cut into the gum to encourage the tooth to come through naturally or by using antibiotics to clear an infection.

Think you may need your wisdom teeth removed? Check out the 7 signs in our 3-minute blog 7 Signs Your Wisdom Teeth Need To Come Out.

Why is it important to replace a tooth?

Tooth removal may help to relieve acute pain and complications, but a gap in your teeth can cause problems of its own over time, and not only by affecting your appearance.

When a tooth is removed, the surrounding teeth have less support and may start to shift out of place causing misalignment. Misaligned teeth make it difficult to clean between teeth and increase your risk of developing decay and other problems.

Multiple missing teeth may affect your ability to chew and speak properly, or may lead to problems such as tooth grinding or TMJ disorders.

To prevent these problems and more, your dentist will normally recommend replacing a tooth as soon as your mouth has healed following an extraction. They will discuss the different options that may be suitable, depending on how many teeth you want to replace, your preferences and your budget.

The most common tooth replacement solutions are:

Dental implants

When Is It Too Late to Save a Tooth-replace-with-implants

Dental implants offer more stability and longevity than other teeth replacement options. Implants are carefully placed in the jaw and connected to a crown, fixed bridge or removable denture. They can replace one, several or all of your teeth.

Kelmscott Dental is home to Perth’s dedicated dental implant clinic Perth Dental Implant Centre, where implant treatments are provided by experienced Perth implant dentist Dr David Norcross using the latest techniques in implant dentistry. Learn more about Perth Dental Implant Centre.

Dental bridges

When Is It Too Late to Save a Tooth-replace-with-bridge

A dental bridge is one or more prosthetic teeth used to ‘bridge’ a gap between natural teeth. Bridges at Kelmscott Dental are designed by a local dental laboratory.

Depending on which teeth you’re replacing and the type of bridge chosen, bridges may be supported by crowns or clasps attached to the neighbouring teeth.


When Is It Too Late to Save a Tooth-dentures

Full or partial dentures can be a more affordable option for replacing one, several or all of your teeth. Removable dentures may be attached to the mouth using suction or clasps and need to be cleaned regularly and left out overnight.

Talk to a dentist in Kelmscott

If you think you might have a problem with your tooth, seeing a dentist as soon as possible improves your chance of making a full recovery.

Call our friendly team at Kelmscott Dental on (08) 9495 7999 to schedule an appointment with our local dentists or book online. We also welcome patients from Armadale, Gosnells and other nearby suburbs.

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