Tooth transplantation initially sounds like a great idea: take a tooth from someplace you don’t need it (such as a wisdom tooth) and use it to replace a tooth lost to injury or decay. Recognizing the potential of the technique, there’s a new center for tooth transplantation at a major American University.
But while there are some definite benefits to tooth transplantation, the technique is limited and will never be a popular technique a substitute for dental implants.
What Is Tooth Transplantation?
In tooth transplantation, a dentist will take a tooth from one part of your mouth and put it in a different part of your mouth. The most common donor tooth is one of your wisdom teeth, which might otherwise be extracted anyway. The wisdom tooth is then moved into the spot left open by a tooth that was lost to decay, gum disease, or trauma, usually a first molar.
Benefits of Tooth Transplantation
Tooth transplantation has an initial success rate that’s comparable to dental implants–from 90-99%, depending on the study you look at. Once placed, transplanted teeth can last for decades.
The transplanted teeth have some benefits over dental implants. Because they’re natural teeth, they can move and adjust with the growth of the developing jaw. They can even respond to orthodontics. The natural tooth has more internal flex, but sensitivity to pressure that helps you keep from biting down too hard. Plus, the appearance is natural because it is a natural tooth.
All of these benefits make the procedure ideal for teens and young adults whose jaws might still be growing. Dental implants aren’t used in developing jaws because they can’t shift and move the way natural teeth can.
Limitations of Tooth Transplantation
But tooth transplantation is a very limited procedure. First, consider that you only have a limited number of donor teeth–4 at most for almost everyone. At best, you can only get that many teeth replaced this way.
And the teeth are all molars, so you can only replace molars, which are the teeth that you’re least likely to lose to trauma. If you try to replace other teeth with these molars, you will have a result that looks strange, defeating the purpose of transplantation.
But perhaps the most important limitation is that the timing is limited. Tooth transplantation can only be done in the time when you have wisdom teeth developing–they should be one-half to two-thirds complete before transplantation. So the window of time is pretty narrow. It corresponds to a good opportunity for some people who need, it but for many people it’s just not workable.
Dental Implants Are Already a Great Solution
On the plus side, dental implants are already a great way to replace teeth. They have a high success rate, look natural, can be placed immediately, and almost everyone is a good candidate for them.
If you have lost a tooth and are looking for a replacement in the Scripps Ranch area, please call (858) 271-1010 today for an appointment with implant dentist Dr. Ramin Goshtasbi at Oasis Dental Arts today.