Removing a natural tooth is never ideal. In fact, modern dentistry offers a wide variety of treatments to save a dying, infected or damaged tooth. Unfortunately, not all teeth can be saved, and there are certain situations that make tooth removal the best solution. Pulling a permanent tooth may sound scary, but if your dentist suggests it, you can trust that it is not only in the best interest of your oral health but that it will also be performed in the most conservative and comfortable way possible.
Reasons for Tooth Removal
Tooth extraction can be needed for several reasons, including the following:
- Severe decay or trauma
- To alleviate crowding (prepare for orthodontics)
- To remove a stubborn baby tooth that won’t fall out on its own
- To remove impacted or problematic wisdom teeth
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- To facilitate dentures
Why Decay is the Most Common Cause of Tooth Extraction
Could ignoring your cavity mean tooth removal? If it is neglected for too long, yes! Oral bacteria is both normal and common. However, there are certain types of bacteria that can be harmful to your teeth. When this bacteria is not removed, it creates a layer of plaque that clings to your teeth. Once plaque hardens and bacteria continues to feed on the sugars you eat, acids are produced that dissolve tooth enamel. In such cases, tiny holes are made in your tooth surface – called cavities.
In the early stages, a cavity can be conservatively treated with a dental filling. However, if the decay is left alone, the area of damage can grow large enough to warrant an inlay, onlay or dental crown. If neglected for a longer period of time, the decay-causing bacteria can erode your tooth and penetrate the inner pulp, or the center of your tooth where the nerves reside. At this stage, the decay is hard to ignore because most patients experience severe tooth pain and sensitivity.
A root canal can often save the damaged tooth after advanced decay, but not always. If the decay is too severe or the tooth has been largely compromised, an extraction may be necessary.
What to Expect During Your Tooth Extraction
Tooth extraction is a very common and straightforward procedure in dentistry. As modern dentistry continues to evolve, this procedure has become even more comfortable and conservative than ever before. You may be given an antibiotic before your appointment as a preventative approach to possible infection. During your procedure, the affected tooth area will be numbed with a local anesthetic. Many patients also opt for sedation dentistry as a means to further relax while they are in the dental chair.
The length, complexity and recovery of your tooth extraction procedure depends on the reason for the removal. A set of impacted wisdom teeth, for example, may involve removing more bone and gum tissue than a single baby tooth. If stitches are used during your extraction, they will be self-dissolving.
After Your Tooth Removal
It is important to follow your dentist’s guidelines for post-operative care after your tooth extraction procedure. This may include a soft-foods diet, gentle mouth rinses, OTC pain medications and more. It will be critical that you not dislodge the blood clot at the extraction site, which means not drinking through a straw, smoking or engaging in strenuous activity too soon.
Replacing Missing Teeth
Unless your extraction was performed on a baby tooth, wisdom teeth or for orthodontic reasons, you will likely need to consider replacing your lost tooth with a dental implant. Not replacing a permanent tooth can lead to a number of challenges, including the following:
- Shifting of neighboring teeth/misalignment
- Higher risk for cavities (due to cleaning challenges)
- Aesthetics threats
- Speech and chewing difficulties
- Bone loss within the jaw
A dental implant is the most preferred method for replacing an extracted tooth. An implant involves surgically inserting a titanium post into the jawbone to act as an artificial tooth root for a dental crown, bridge or denture to be placed on top. Implants have a remarkable success rate and are considered the best replica of a natural tooth.
Still nervous about tooth removal? For more information about what to expect during a tooth extraction, call Grateful Dental in Marietta.