Tooth extraction is when a tooth is removed from its place in the gum & bone of your jaw. Compared to many dental procedures, tooth extraction can sound scary, especially when it’s referred to as “oral surgery”. However, we believe that understanding the reasons that an extraction is necessary will ease your mind if you’ve been told you need a tooth removed.
Dentists will always try a conservative approach first when trying to repair a tooth that is damaged. However, if the damage is too severe for the usual solutions such as a crown or a filling, the dentist may decide to remove the tooth completely. Teeth sometimes shift into the place where the removed tooth used to be, which can cause problems with your bite. For this reason (& your own comfort) we may recommend putting a bridge, partial denture or dental implant in the space where the missing tooth was.
Tooth extraction can also be a part of orthodontic (or braces) treatment. When teeth are too large for the mouth & are causing problems, teeth may need to be removed in order for orthodontic treatment to be completed. The most common reason for tooth extraction in braces treatment is the alleviate crowding, though there are other conditions that may warrant the removal of teeth (such as an overbite). Usually, teeth are removed symmetrically, so the same 2 teeth in each jaw are removed in order to keep the bite balanced, so a total of 4 teeth would be removed. While tooth extraction for the sake of braces may seem like an extreme choice, but in some cases, it is an alternative to more serious surgery to re-align the jaw.
Wisdom teeth are an extra set of adult molars that usually come in when patients are in their late teens or early 20s. Not everyone’s wisdom teeth cause problems, but it is common for them to be impacted, meaning they’ve come in at a funny angle or have failed to come in at all, & trapped under the gum pressing against other teeth. In some cases, wisdom teeth can become infected or cause abscesses, pain or swelling. Wisdom teeth removal is usually recommended on wisdom teeth that are impacted or have otherwise started to cause problems.
Sometimes a dentist will recommend tooth extraction of baby teeth (also known as primary teeth or “milk” teeth) that have not been lost in a timely fashion. For example, if your dentist sees that your child still has a baby tooth that most children their age would have lost years ago they may recommend extracting it. The reason for such extractions is usually to ensure that permanent adult teeth come in (or erupt) in the right position.
It’s also important that you understand that dentists never take the extraction of a tooth lightly. Our first choice is always conservative treatment (i.e. “conserving” as many teeth in your mouth as possible), but sometimes health or developmental considerations make keeping a tooth inadvisable. No matter the reason, if we’ve recommended tooth extraction as part of your treatment, we will go over the details of what to expect both during & after the procedure, & what the resulting benefit to your health will be.
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