Yes, my office receives calls with this exact statement and related question. Let me explain that the phrase, “tooth broke”, has represented a slight chip out of a corner, or splitting in half all the way through the root, and everything else in between. A fractured tooth is further complicated if it was broken by trauma or because there often is decay deep inside the tooth, which weakens the enamel structure and sometimes infects the nerve. We need an x-ray to even detect these conditions. That’s why we cannot provide an estimate of the cost to fix it. If you opt to just have the tooth, and the problem, removed, you now face the expense of replacing the tooth with something that fills in the space created. Otherwise, neighboring teeth will simply drift wherever they choose. This causes other problems.
I can tell you that the cost to fix a problem is usually more if you ignore it for a while rather than if you’d followed a pattern of regular dental visits and annual x-rays, which would have alerted us to unseen problems that were brewing. And you probably wouldn’t have missed a few days of work or had to purchase antibiotics or pain medications.
Some teeth can no longer be fixed. One of the classic statements among dental professionals is, “Ignore your teeth and they’ll go away”. They will break beyond the point of repair when subjected to biting pressure if they are cracked or weakened by decay. They will loosen, and continue to get worse if the bone holding onto them is diseased. And your breath will have an offensive odor. Your body will be constantly fighting an infection, which has an effect on other body systems.
When a new patient comes to our practice with several of the problems listed above, they are embarrassed about it. To me, it is just the reality of short-sighted decisions, and I’m glad that they have broken this cycle. We discuss their objectives and options for treatment and the cost. We prioritize the sequence for professional care, sometimes with other specifically-trained dental professionals. Their care is coordinated among all these professionals.
Remember that dental professionals originally chose to pursue this profession so they could improve the health, chewing function, and self-esteem of people. Personally, it is still my passion. Every day at the practice is a Blessing.