As dentists, we are committed to helping you preserve your natural teeth for as long as possible. As such, removing a tooth is always the last resort. Nevertheless, there are times when tooth extraction is the best course of action. Here’s what you need to know about the reasons why we might recommend extraction and what you can expect to happen.
There are a number of different reasons why a patient may be recommended to have one or more teeth extracted. Some of the most common include the following:
If our teeth aren’t given sufficient attention and care, over time they will almost certainly become damaged. In most instances, this occurs as a result of dental decay. Decay is caused by the interaction of bacteria found in the mouth with sugars in food and drink. This interaction produces acids that gradually erode the enamel covering our teeth, exposing softer and more sensitive inner layers. When these come into contact with sugars from food and drink, it can cause sensitivity and pain. However, as the decay progresses it starts to destroy the teeth more and more, and unless it is treated, it will finally penetrate and destroy the tooth root, causing the tooth to die. When decay is widespread and severe, extraction may be necessary to prevent the bacteria from spreading and affecting other teeth.
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, periodontitis, and oral disease is another serious oral health condition that can affect the longevity of our teeth. Gum disease occurs when the sticky, clear film called plaque that continually forms on our teeth is left long enough to spread onto the gums. When this happens, it causes irritation, swelling, and soreness and over time, the bacteria will cause infection to occur within the soft tissue. If this isn’t treated, the infection can damage the gums, causing them to pull away from the teeth. Other tooth-supporting structures including the tooth root and jawbone can also become irreparably damaged, causing teeth to come loose. Teeth may fall out of their own accord, but before this, if your gum disease is severe, our dental team may recommend an extraction.
Our second set of teeth, which ideally need to last the rest of our lifetime, start to come through when we are 6 or 7 years old. Nevertheless, they all erupt at different times and some people even have more teeth than others. Overcrowding is when a patient has too many teeth to sit comfortably in their jaw. Overcrowding can be a disaster for overall health as crooked and overlapping teeth are much harder to keep clean, making decay and gum disease more likely. Overcrowding also looks unsightly and makes many people feel self-conscious about their smiles. Extraction of superfluous teeth may be recommended, often ahead of orthodontic treatment.
Accidents and injuries to the mouth are very common and sometimes they can be severe enough to be unable to be repaired. In these instances, you may be recommended to have the tooth removed and then later replaced with an artificial alternative like a dental implant.
Dental extractions are almost always performed with a local anesthetic, and if you feel particularly nervous about the procedure, you may be able to enquire about sedative drugs to help you remain calm throughout the removal. We will discuss this with you ahead of your extraction.
The process itself is usually fairly simple. A special device called an elevator will be placed between your tooth and gum and will be rocked back and forth to widen the socket that the tooth is currently in. Once enough room has been created, we will normally use a tiny pair of forceps to take hold of the tooth and remove it wholly, including taking out the root. The entire procedure can usually be carried out in under 10 minutes. However, if your tooth is unlikely to come out whole, or we identify other issues with it, you may need a surgical extraction. This is where incisions are made into the gum to free the tooth, and in some cases, small areas of bone may also need to be removed. Our oral surgeons may also need to break the tooth into sections to successfully remove it. Unsurprisingly, it can take longer for patients to recover after a surgical extraction and you will be given very specific advice to follow to take care of the extraction site as your gums heal. This may include guidance on what to eat, medications to take, and how to take care of your teeth until you have fully recovered.
If you would like more information about tooth extraction, or to schedule a consultation to talk to us about your teeth, please contact us today at our dental offices in Missoula, MT, and Hamilton, MT.