What Is A Tooth Extraction?
A tooth extraction, more popularly known as having a tooth pulled, is when a dentist removes a tooth from its socket in the jaw bone. Tooth extraction is used as a last resort, often after other treatment options fail or will no longer correct the problem.
Who Needs A Tooth Extraction?
There are several reasons a patient may need their tooth extracted. These reasons include:
- Damaged teeth: Teeth that have experienced extensive decay may be broken or cracked. Sometimes repairing the teeth may not be possible, such as with advanced periodontal disease.
- Orthodontia: In preparation for certain orthodontic treatments, a tooth may need to be extracted in order to make enough space in the mouth and to correct teeth that are misaligned.
- Extreme infection: Infection can be a dangerous issue if left untreated. If a tooth is extremely infected, the best choice may be to remove the tooth promptly (and in turn removing the infection), before the infection spreads to other areas of the mouth.
- Extra teeth: Extra teeth may interfere with teeth alignment, make it harder to brush teeth, or block other teeth from growing out of the gum line. Wisdom teeth are often treated as extra teeth and are removed to prevent infection, impaction, or other adverse health problems.
- Non-functioning teeth: When teeth are not aligned properly, the tooth may not be in use. If there are no opposing teeth to bite against, the tooth is essentially useless. Dentists recommend removing these teeth in order to avoid any unnecessary complications and adverse health effects.
- Radiation/Chemotherapy: Radiation of the head and neck may sometimes require teeth to be extracted in order to help avoid complications, such as infection. Chemotherapy (often used in conjunction with radiation) weakens the immune system and can lead to a heightened risk of tooth infections.
- Organ Transplant: Those undergoing an organ transplant are often prescribed immunosuppressive medications after an organ transplant. This is done to help prevent the body from rejecting the new organ. The risk in this, however, is the increased chance of infection. Some teeth may require tooth extraction to prevent infection from spreading through the body.
How Is A Tooth Extracted?
A tooth extraction is usually a simple process when the tooth is visible in the mouth. This simple process is as follows:
- A local anesthetic is injected into the area where the tooth will be removed in order to numb the area and prevent pain.
- The dentist will grab the tooth with forceps and start wiggling the tooth in order to loosen the tooth within the tooth socket.
- Once the tooth socket is widened and the tooth has become loose, the dentist will remove the tooth from the socket.
With more complicated extractions, a surgical extraction may be necessary. Surgical extraction is used when teeth cannot be easily seen or reached in the mouth. This is most common for wisdom teeth extractions.
- The patient is usually given general anesthesia or some other form of sedation. A local anesthetic is still injected into the area of the tooth removal.
- An incision may be made in order to reach teeth below the gum line. The gum tissue will then be folded out of the way or removed in order to reach the tooth.
- The tooth may be cut into pieces once the dentist reaches it, in order to remove the tooth more easily.
- Stitches may be required in the extraction site after the tooth has been removed.
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