The other day I had a patient who came to see me because she broke her tooth. Unfortunately, at this point this tooth can not be saved. The real question is: could this have been avoided? The answer is yes.
The history behind this broken tooth is that it had a very large metal (amalgam) filling for a long time. When I saw this patient for the first time, my recommendation was to crown( cap) this tooth because it was structurally compromised due to a large metal filling and fractures visible in the tooth. The patient kept postpoining the necessary work for a variety of reasons, one of them being finances.
So, what now? Well, now it becomes more involved to fix this broken tooth. In fact, you can not fix it. This tooth would have to be removed and replaced by either an implant, or a three unit bridge. So, instead of costs of putting a crown on the compromised tooth and preserving it longterm, this patient is looking at much more substantial costs of extracting this tooth, replacing it with an implant or a three unit bridge. At the end, this patient did not benefit financially by waiting. Unfortunately in dentistry waiting too long does not make things better, or make problems go away. Most of the time, problems get worse and it becomes more involved and costly to fix them. So the lesson here is this: the best time to fix the problems is when they first appear. It is usually the least involved and the least costly way to repair the damage.