Ask a Dentist: When Should I Get a Tooth Extraction?
is a standard dental procedure that involves removing an incisor or molar from the bone's socket. Before the dentist removes one, the patient undergoes an examination and X-ray to determine the tooth's length, shape, and position.
There are two types of extraction processes: simple and surgical.
In a simple extraction, a visible tooth is removed. Using an instrument known as an elevator, the dentist loosens the tooth and then releases it with forceps.
In a surgical extraction, on the other hand, dentists make an incision into the gum to remove the underlying tooth. A surgical extraction may occur when a patient has a tooth that broke off at the gum line or when teeth haven't erupted.
When should patients consider a tooth extraction?
When the damage becomes too extensive, dentists cannot permanently save the tooth. If a patient has irreversible damage, the provider may choose to extract it. Infections, trauma, and overcrowding are the most common reasons to remove teeth.
When decaying teeth do not receive treatment, the rot spreads to the tooth's pulp. An infected pulp can spread to other teeth. In some cases, a cavity can compromise a tooth's structure. When a tooth is too weak to repair, an extraction may be necessary.
For patients who have a compromised immune system, the risk of infection may be enough to consider a tooth extraction. For example, patients undergoing chemotherapy cannot fight off a dental infection, so if they have a cracked or decayed tooth, the dentist could suggest removing it.
In some cases, trauma to the teeth leaves the structure unsalvagable. For example, if a patient has a tooth cracked to the gumline, taking out the tooth may be more effective than trying any other restorative procedure. Dental X-rays can help providers determine whether an extraction is necessary.
If patients have teeth too large for their mouths or crowded teeth that do not fit comfortably, it might be necessary to have a tooth extraction. An impacted tooth shifts or grows into the wrong position and may not function adequately. In other instances, overcrowding can prevent other teeth from erupting.
Dentists remove teeth to provide others with enough space to develop. In some cases, an extraction is followed by braces to move teeth into the proper area. Most patients do not have enough room in their mouths for wisdom teeth, so these molars are commonly removed from a patient's mouth.
Children may not lose their teeth in time for adult teeth to grow in. Having a dentist take out baby teeth makes room for adult teeth.
Dentists may suggest a tooth extraction when a patient has severe trauma or decay to a tooth. When the tooth's structure has been destroyed or an infection threatens other teeth, removal may be the only option. Patients often leave an extraction with a more functional mouth than before.
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