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Dentistry/Question about decayed tooth


If a decayed tooth isn't painful when using it, would problems arise if I choose not to have it drilled and filled? If the decayed part is not removed, will it help erode the good part of the tooth quicker?

Also, if another tooth is beyond being able to be saved and the dentist recommends pulling it, would there be problems if I choose not to have the tooth pulled?

Hi Phillip,
Sorry to hear that you might be dealing with some advanced tooth problems.  I'll try to answer your questions in a helpful way.

First the tooth with the decay that is not painful.  There are consequences if you choose not to have it drilled and filled.  The problem is that the decay is constantly advancing and getting deeper.  If you choose not to have it drilled and filled, it will continue to advance until you no longer have the choice of saving it by drilling and filling.  Once the decay advances to the deeper layers where the nerves are, the pain will force you to have it pulled.  And yes, the decayed part helps erode the part of the tooth that has not decayed yet.  So my best advice is, if at all possible have it drilled and filled before it is too late.  I'm sorry, but there is no way I can guess how much time you have before it is too late to save.

The question concerning not pulling a tooth that needs to be pulled;  My advice is to have it pulled.  And here's why.  It is most likely that sometime in the future the tooth will suddenly will get very painful.  It could be in the middle of the night, it could be while you were on a trip somewhere.  But no one can predict when.  Pain from an abscessed tooth is so bad that it is indescribable.  And I wouldn't say that just to scare you.  I would like to help you avoid that.

Another problem is that the tooth that needs to be pulled is a constant source of bacterial infection that travels around your body and can contribute to many other health problems.

In summary, do your best to get one pulled and one filled while you have the choice.

Larry Burnett DDS


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Larry Burnett DDS


Preventative Dentistry. Conservative Periodontal Therapy


National lecturer on conservative treatment of periodontal diseases and elimination of tooth decay. Former adjunct professor of oral microbiology at a Leading school of dental hygiene. Former investigator for State Board of Dentistry. Retired from private dental practice.


RDH Magazine. Numerous articles

Graduate of Medical College of VA School of Dentistry. 20 years teaching hygienists at NOVA

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