If your dentist has told you that you need a tooth extraction, you may be nervous. Doesn’t taking out a tooth altogether seem a little extreme? The truth is that extractions are a common and routine part of dental work; that said, each patient is different, and some cases might be more difficult than others. Here’s what you need to know about tooth removal – why it’s done and what can affect the procedure.
WHY WOULD A TOOTH NEED TO BE REMOVED?
There are many reasons why a tooth extraction may be necessary. Oftentimes, it’s a response to an infection; if the damage is too great to be repaired, the tooth needs to be taken out altogether. Although a tooth infection is usually the result of decay, it can also be a result of gum disease or broken teeth.
In other cases, a patient’s mouth may be overcrowded and preventing new teeth from coming in; in particular, younger patients may need their baby teeth extracted if they don’t fall out in time. Similarly, an extraction might be performed to prepare the mouth for orthodontal work.
Wisdom teeth – extra molars that come in during the late teens or early twenties – are usually extracted due to health concerns.
WHAT CAN AFFECT THE EXTRACTION PROCESS?
Your dentist can use an X-ray to examine the tooth and determine the best method of extraction. Factors may include the presence of wisdom teeth, the relationship between the upper teeth and sinuses, the state of the inferior alveolar nerve below the lower teeth, and the presence of infections, tumors or bone disease.
The chosen procedure can also affect how easily an extraction is performed. A simple extraction, which is usually done for visible teeth, simply involves loosening the tooth and removing it with forceps. Surgical extraction, however, is a more involved process usually performed on teeth that have not come in yet or have broken off at the gumline; a small incision is made in the gums, and bone removal is sometimes required.
Other factors can include:
- The size of the mouth and the position of the tooth. A small mouth and a tooth located near the back can make the process more difficult.
- Extensive decay. This makes a tooth very weak and likely to fracture, so it must be handled with care.
- Bone loss. If your teeth are already loose due to deterioration of the jawbone, it can make the extraction simpler.
Each patient will have different needs, so make sure you speak with your dentist about your past medical history, including any medications you’re currently taking. The more information they have, the easier it will be to prepare you for the procedure and perform the extraction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Terry Rigdon is one of only three dentists in Oklahoma to achieve diplomat status with the American Board of Oral Implantology/Implant Dentistry. At his practice in Tulsa, Rigdon Dental & Associates, in addition to extractions, he offers implants, crowns, bridges and dentures to replace missing teeth. To schedule an appointment, visit his practice’s website or call 918-494-8666.