212 Drummond

Why do people opt to have their teeth extracted?

Part 1 

In our parents' generation, as a 21st birthday present, it was a common thing to have all teeth removed and dentures put in to substitute for them, or if a bride was married before her 21st birthday she would be walked up the aisle with the set already in place.

"Are those your own teeth love?" "Well, my dad paid the dentist for them, so in that respect I do own them, if that's what you mean? I haven't borrowed them" I have been a dentist for 25 years, I have never yet met a 21 year old who needed all their teeth extracted. 20 year olds today would be baffled by the suggestion that they should have all their teeth removed at the age of 21. People nowadays are holding on to their teeth for a lifetime and why should they expect anything else?

Imagine you went to the doctor with a sore toe and the doctor said, "You have an ingrowing toenail, the diagnosis is very clear. Your options for treatment are either fixing it with some surgery and that will cost you $1000 or we can cut it off for $240. What do you want to do?". So you have a think about it for a minute and you say, "I think I'll just get you to amputate it. Can you do it today? It is killing me."

Have you noticed all the poeple around who have maybe only 3 fingers on one hand and none at all on the other and maybe a few toes missing as well? No you haven't! Our fingers and toes are sacred to us because they are part of our body, we would only have one of those amputated if there was absolutely no other option. Our teeth are also part of pur body, if you wouldn't do it to your toe then why would you do it to your teeth?

Part 2

The truth is that dentists have been a substantial part of the reason why amputation of our teeth became so common and accepted. Back in days of yore when the dentist was also the surgeon and the barber, the standard treatment for most infections was to cut whatever was smelling really bad. A toe is a lot harder to amputate than a tooth so as a consequence, once treatments for infection became a lot better, treatment for infected toes moved away from amputation and toward trying to keep it, but remained amputation for teeth. And as a consequence of a tooth being so simple to remove the logic became, "what's the point in trying to save a tooth when extracting it is so easy?". So dentists didn't try very hard to save a tooth.

Nowadays nearly all my patients want to save their teeth but there are still some dentists who subscribe to the, 'what's the point in trying hard to save a tooth" approach.

And in truth we don't actually need our teeth, if you take need to be the most basic elements of food, sleep and oxygen. We don't even need our clothes either, although it is fantastic that there has been almost universal adoption of that whole clothes idea. But we are much, much more than just our basic needs. Having our teeth is all about quality of life. We use our mouths to eat, talk, laugh with friends over dinner, express our greatest hopes, comfort loved ones through the grief of bereavement, make the first connection to our soulmates with a smile.

We need more than just what keeps us alive and our teeth are the foundation stone of our lives.

We're for quality of life in Dentistry @ Ballarat. Teeth, toes and all.


Dr. Ian Harper




Why do you take an hour for the first exam, when other dentists don’t? Why do I need to see a hygienist? Can’t the dentist just clean my teeth? Will they cost more? I haven’t been to a dentist in years & I’m worried about what they might find. What’s the difference between a porcelain filling
and a cheaper one?
How do our dentists look
aftertheir own teeth?
Why do I need X-rays?
Do they do me any harm?
If it isn’t currently broken,
do I need to get it fixed?