It is understandable that patients have emotional factors that dentists must consider when they cann0t save teeth. Most patients think that they are embarking on a painful journey when they come in to have a tooth removed. When they need to have multiple teeth extracted, their anxiety grows exponentially.
Physical Factors of Tooth Extraction
Prior to the procedure, the patient is focused on the process of tooth removal. However, today we have very effective ways to anesthetize patients. I very rarely face a situation where a patient feels pain and there is nothing we can do about it, or feels pain after we have administered anesthetics. In fact, most people are pleasantly surprised that we kept them so comfortable during the procedure.
Emotional Factors of Tooth Extraction
There are also emotional factors to consider when patients are contemplating losing a tooth because they do not want to lose a body part. As an analogy one might think about a person losing their little toe. Most people understand that they do not really need their little toe, but removing it would be a body disfigurement that leaves the person no longer whole. The prospect of losing a tooth may trigger a similar emotional response which can be very stressful.
Other Concerns of Tooth Removal
Another possible concern a patient may have is worrying about what their significant other will think of them if they are missing teeth. Some people have memories of seeing their grandparents’ dentures or partial dentures, and they are certain it is not an acceptable option for how they want to live. We reassure our patients by explaining that having to take out artificial teeth at night is only one option. We now have dental implants that remain fixed in the mouth and provide the closest possible substitute for natural teeth.
In my periodontal practice, we take time to help patients understand very quickly that our goal is to alleviate their pain and help them return to having a healthy mouth. We listen to patients’ concerns and pay close attention to making sure they are physically and emotionally comfortable. We like to say that we are concerned about the entire patient, not just their teeth.