When Is Tooth Extraction Needed?
One of the main goals of modern dentistry is to preserve your natural teeth for as long as possible — a lifetime, we hope. That’s why we’re always reminding you to brush, floss, and come in for regular examinations and cleanings. But sometimes, one or more of the teeth may need to be extracted (removed). This may become necessary for several reasons.
A sharp blow to the mouth in sports, for example — might cause a tooth to chip or crack. Your dentist would like to save the tooth via a crown, a root canal, or both. But sometimes, depending on the damage sustained, it just isn’t possible. Disease or decay may also make it impractical to save a natural tooth. Extraction may be the final step required to prevent a cracked or decayed tooth from causing further damage.
Impacted Wisdom or Baby Teeth
There are other good reasons for extracting a tooth, in the case of crowding or an impacted wisdom tooth, or baby teeth that don’t fall out on their own, sometimes interfere with other nearby teeth, nerves or important structures in the mouth; they may need to be extracted to prevent trouble from occurring later.
During orthodontic treatment, one or more teeth may need to be removed to alleviate the condition known as crowding: That’s when the dental arches (jaws) simply don’t have enough space to accommodate all the teeth.
Steps in an Extraction
First, a radiographic (X-ray) examination allows your dentist to see the tooth’s exact position and anticipate any possible complications. Your medical and drug history is also evaluated, so your dentist can assess your general health and establish your options for anesthesia.
Simpler tooth extractions may be performed under local anesthesia such as a numbing shot, with or without additional sedation like nitrous oxide or oral medication. More complex (or multiple) extractions may require conscious sedation that’s administered intravenously (into the bloodstream).
Once you’ve been anesthetized, the tooth can be removed. You might think that teeth are set into the bone like a stone in concrete — but that’s not the case! They’re actually attached by a series of fibers called the periodontal ligament. By carefully manipulating these fibers, most teeth can be dislodged without too much difficulty. Afterwards, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics and/or recommend over-the-counter pain medications for a few days.