It happened again yesterday

DR. LEE SHELDON • December 1, 2023

A patient comes in with his wife and tells me nine extractions have been recommended. They want a second opinion. This happens a lot. And most of the time, when I look at the patient, the patient doesn’t need nearly the number of extractions that have been recommended.

Why do dentists think teeth need to be extracted when they don’t? The main reason is the lack of periodontal diagnostic training. And they routinely believe that periodontal disease can’t be treated. Compounded with that is the reluctance of dentists to refer to periodontists. And when that happens, that opens the door to extractions.

It starts with attitude. If we approach a patient with the attitude that the patient can heal, then our perspective is that of healing. Does it happen every time? No. But it happens most of the time.

We will treat this patient, and three teeth may need to be extracted. And it may be that zero teeth need to be removed. I won’t know until I’ve given the patient the correct treatment and observed the healing. Given that the patient has severe periodontitis on other teeth, it will cost the patient no more to treat these “hopeless teeth” and then observe.  

The principle is to treat the infection first. Don’t extract teeth. See how the patient heals due to proper treatment of the infection. And if we do that and understand that there are causes for infection and that skill and judgment can reverse those causes, the body can heal.

You can extend that to any part of the body, not just teeth or periodontal disease. Understand the body knows how to heal if given the correct factors.

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