When Does a Tooth Need to be Extracted?
Many patients with dental pain worry that their tooth may need to be extracted. With modern dentistry, extraction isn’t the only treatment solution and it certainly is nothing to be feared Having a tooth pulled is far better than living with pain or allowing a damaged tooth to create other problems in your mouth.
Your dentist is the most qualified person to advise you on when extraction is recommended in case of damage, infection, gum disease or impaction. Let’s review the main reasons for extracting teeth, signs a tooth should be pulled, what to expect with an extraction and information to share with your dentist before the procedure.
When is Tooth Extraction Recommended?
Only your dentist can advise you on the best course of action related to tooth extraction. Except in emergency cases, extraction should be the result of thorough examination and a comprehensive evaluation of your oral health.
For more complicated cases or if the extraction requires general anesthesia, Briglia Dental can refer you to a skilled oral surgeon. For a broken, impacted or severely damaged tooth, as well as for wisdom teeth, we usually recommend the extraction be done by an oral surgeon.
There are several reasons your dentist may recommend tooth extraction:
Damage to the Tooth
If a tooth has been damaged by disease or some sort of trauma, it may not be possible to repair the damage, and extraction may be the only option.
Infection or Disease
Severe infection or decay affecting the pulp can be a reason for extraction if the infection does not respond to antibiotics. In cases of severe gum disease, the root of the tooth may be so exposed or damaged that pulling it is advisable.
In some cases, particularly for a patient affected by chemotherapy or an organ transplant, the risk of infection may signal a need for extraction. In this case, the procedure is a preventive measure to avoid serious immune system complications.
Impaction or Overcrowding
Wisdom teeth should be extracted if they can’t push through the gum on their own or if the jaw is too small to accommodate them without crowding other teeth. Extraction is often recommended if teeth are turned at odd angles, impacted or may affect the bite and chewing ability.
Teeth may also need to be extracted in preparation for orthodontic work. In some cases, one or more teeth are removed for functional or cosmetic reasons.
What Are the Signs a Tooth Needs to be Extracted?
This is one of the most common questions that we get as dentists. Even the common practice of extracting wisdom teeth is not always necessary, and a toothache does not automatically mean that extraction is the only solution.
Here are some common signs that a tooth should be extracted:
- Severe tooth pain,
- Pain that worsens with pressure or chewing,
- Jaw pain or stiffness,
- Swollen gums around the tooth,
- Presence of gum disease.
If you have any of these symptoms, set up a visit with your dentist as soon as possible to discuss the best treatment options and solutions.
What Should I Expect with Tooth Extraction?
With modern techniques, local anesthetic and sedation options, extraction is no longer a procedure to fear. In many cases, a simple extraction will cause no more pain than having a cavity filled.
Healing normally takes a few weeks, and in most cases, there are no complications. After an extraction, you will want to rest for at least 24 hours and limit activity for a day or two after that. Our dental staff will usually recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever, like acetaminophen, or prescribe a more appropriate pain medicine if necessary. Patients should use ice packs and oral rinses, limit food and liquid intake. Before sending you home, we will advise you about possible complications.
Normally, the extraction site heals completely within a month or two, when we can begin preparations for restoration. Rarely do we recommend extracting a tooth without a corresponding plan for restoration. A missing tooth can cause other teeth to shift which affects your bite and your ability to eat and speak clearly. Missing teeth are usually replaced with implants, bridges or partial dentures.
What Does Your Dentist Needs to Know Prior to Extraction?
You should always share medication information with your dentist or oral surgeon. Our team will also ask about the prescription medications and supplements you normally take.
Because extractions can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream, it’s imperative that you share your medical history and disclose any chronic conditions that place you in a higher risk category. Those might include heart disease, immune system deficiencies, liver disease, organ transplants and artificial implants, and the use of bone supplements called Biophosphonates.
Experience Makes a Difference
If you have a tooth that you suspect needs to be extracted to improve oral health, make your smile more beautiful or for any other reason, the team at Briglia Dental Center can help. First and foremost, our goal is always to preserve your natural teeth if possible. We can advise you on the various available options and design a treatment plan.
We are a family practice; that means that we are as committed to assuring that those first permanent teeth develop properly as we are to protecting and preserving their function for older adults.
This article was originally published on March 3, 2016 and has since been updated to reflect the most accurate information.