A tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone. If a tooth has been damaged by tooth decay or a fracture, a dentist will attempt to repair the tooth by restoring it with a dental crown, filing, bridge or another form of treatment. However, often times the damage is too expensive for the tooth to be repaired. In these cases, a tooth extraction will be necessary.
How a Tooth Extraction is performed:
A simple extraction is performed on a tooth that can be seen in the mouth, and, in most cases, can be done under a local anesthetic. In a simple extraction, the dentist will grasp the tooth with forceps and move the forceps back and forth to loosen the tooth before removing it. Sometimes, an instrument called a luxator, which fits between the tooth and the gum, is used to help loosen the tooth.
Reasons for a Tooth Extraction
Some teeth will have extensive decay, or will have broken or cracked in such a manner that an extraction is considered the best solution. In other cases, the obstacles that present themselves might be so formidable that a repair for the tooth is not possible. While most teeth typically are candidates for root canal treatment, there may be complicating factors that remove this option. If this is the case, and needed root canal treatment cannot be performed, then the extraction of the tooth is necessary. By definition, teeth that have experienced the effects of advanced gum disease are teeth whose supporting bone has been damaged. In general, as periodontal disease worsens, the tooth becomes supported by less and less surrounding bone, often loosing the tooth. In those cases where significant bone damage has occurred and a tooth has become excessively mobile, extraction of the tooth may be the only option.
Malpositioned or Nonfunctional Teeth:
Some teeth are extracted because they are malpositioned. For example, sometimes when wisdom teeth come in they lie in a position that proves to be a constant source of irritation to the cheek. As a solution, a dentist may suggest that the offending wisdom teeth be extracted. Other teeth may be extracted because they provide very little service to the dental patient but do offer risk for becoming problematic.
Preparing for Orthodontic Treatment:
When orthodontic treatment is performed for a patient, the orthodontist is trying to perfect the alignment of the patient's teeth but they can only do so within the confines of the size of the person's jaws. Especially in those cases where a large discrepancy exists between the size of the patient's jaws and the needed space required for the improved alignment of their teeth, some strategically located teeth may need to be extracted.
When a Tooth Extraction May Not be Needed:
During the examination of your teeth, it is possible that the dentist will be able to recommend one or more alternative treatments to having a tooth extraction. While extracting a tooth might be less expensive than the other treatment options proposed, it may not be the least expensive treatment in the end. Once removed, neighboring teeth tend to shift, sometimes significantly. Making alignment changes that can potentially have a major impact on overall dental health. Removing even a single tooth can lead to problems associated with chewing ability or jaw joint function. Additionally, teeth whose alignment has changed can become traps for food or be harder to clean thoroughly, thus causing greater risk for tooth decay and gum disease.