The goal of all forms of dentistry is to ensure the health of your natural teeth and to keep them in your mouth!
Sometimes, however, it is necessary to remove a tooth to ensure the rest of them can continue to remain in an optimal condition. This can be for a number of different reasons, including trauma, decay, to make room for teeth during orthodontic treatment, existing baby teeth, and wisdom tooth eruption.
No matter what the reason, tooth extraction is usually a last resort. In deciding to remove the tooth, your periodontist will consider where the tooth is located, the extent of the damage and the health of the roots.
The difficulty of the procedure largely depends on which tooth will need to be extracted. For example, a molar has multiple roots and can be more complicated to remove, in comparison with a front tooth with a single root. Wisdom tooth removal can be the most complicated of the tooth extraction procedures, as they are generally below the surface of the gum and is surrounded by gum and bone tissue. In choosing an experienced prosthodontist to perform the procedure, you can be sure that your care is specialised and in experienced hands.
Why might a tooth need to be removed?
There are a number of different reasons as to why your tooth may need to be removed. The most common reasons include:
Impacted Wisdom tooth
One of the most common reasons for having a tooth removed is troublesome, impacted wisdom teeth. Sometimes, there is not enough room in the mouth for the wisdom tooth to erupt, which can cause it to partially erupt and cause problems. Other times, the wisdom tooth may be coming in at a bad angle, or in a bad position, which can impact on the existing teeth. In these cases, your periodontist may suggest surgical removal of the wisdom tooth, or teeth to ensure they don’t cause problems for the rest of the teeth.
One common orthodontic issue is overcrowding of the teeth. This is, as the name suggests, when there are simply too many teeth for the size of the dental arch. Removal of one, or several teeth can open up space for the rest of the teeth to be moved in to ensure that all teeth in the mouth can align correctly.
Existing Baby tooth
In some cases, patients experience baby teeth that don’t fall out, or the adult teeth don’t erupt when they’re supposed to. In this case, it might be necessary to remove the baby tooth to ensure the adult tooth can erupt correctly and to ensure proper adult development of the mouth and jaw.
If a tooth has been affected by any of these factors, usually an extraction is the last option. A crown, root canal treatment, fillings and other restorative treatments are usually used first. This is because a natural tooth is always the best option! However, sometimes these treatments are simply not enough to keep the tooth healthy and functioning correctly. In this case, your periodontist may recommend an extraction in combination with a dental implant, to replace the tooth with a sturdy, durable and healthy replacement for the damaged tooth.
How is a tooth extracted/ removed?
Teeth are connected to the bone by a network of fibres, known as the periodontal ligament. Through manipulation and careful movement, the tooth can be detached and removed without too much difficulty. There are two different types of extraction: Simple and Surgical.
A simple extraction is usually performed when the tooth can be seen and is easily accessible inside the mouth. In this procedure, the tooth is loosened using a rocking motion, and then removed using forceps. It is performed under local or general anaesthesia.
A surgical extraction is a more complex procedure, yet in the hands of a specialised periodontist, is not one to fear. Usually, a small cut (incision) is made in your gum, and the tooth is then extracted. This may require the tooth being cut in half, or the removal of some of the surrounding bone. Surgical extraction is commonly performed under general anaesthesia to ensure patient comfort and ease of procedure.
Special care is taken, no matter which procedure is needed, to ensure that the bone and tissue surrounding the tooth isn’t damaged. Your periodontist may decide to place a small amount of bone-grafting material to help preserve bone volume, particularly where a dental implant will be placed in the future to preserve the integrity of the area.
Tooth Extraction FAQs
When the procedure is completed, you will be required to gently bite on gauze for approximately half an hour. This can help with bleeding around the area, as, unlike the rest of your body, cuts in the mouth cannot scab to halt bleeding. After a tooth extraction, it is normal to experience some swelling and discomfort in the area, which is your body’s natural reaction. You may be provided with pain-relieving medication to make the experience after extraction as comfortable as possible, or anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medication may be recommended. It may also be recommended that a cold compress is used periodically to ease swelling, and that soft foods are eaten in the days post-extraction. Your periodontist will discuss your extraction aftercare comprehensively with you, to ensure that the healing period is as safe and comfortable as possible.
The cost of a tooth extraction can be difficult to determine without professional consultation first. It can depend on a number of different factors, including which tooth needs to be removed, the extent of the damage, whether there are multiple teeth and whether the procedure is simple or surgical. The best way to find out the exact cost of removing a tooth is to book in a consultation with your periodontist.
Healing time largely depends on the type of extraction (simple or surgical) and which tooth has been extracted. You should find that your swelling has gone down and you are able to function normally again in 1-2 weeks. However, healing time can vary.
Sugar from the food and drinks we consume release acid on our teeth. This is due to the bacteria that forms in our mouth when we eat carbohydrates, this can be from sweets or even eating bread. The bacteria can latch on to the sugars. When we don’t brush our teeth or take the necessary precautions the bacteria will build up and start to attack our tooth enamel, this softens up and breaks the tooth causing the tooth decay. The decay overtime causes cavities holes in the tooth which result in a toothache.
In most cases sugar and carbohydrates are unavoidable as we all have to eat food. The most important thing is to reduce our consumption of sweet and acidic foods, drinks and snacks. In addition to this it is important to maintain good oral hygiene. Good Oral hygiene consists of:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day
- Flossing often
- Using mouth wash after meals
- Changing your toothbrush every 3-4 months
Visiting the dentist every six months
Depending on the procedure (laser or traditional) having your tooth extracted can be a very painful experience. The recovery is made better by ensuring that you take the proper care of yourself.
Here are some tips on how to look after yourself post extraction:
- Let the wound clot: this allows for the wound to close up and heal. This will stop the bleeding
- Make good use of the gauze the doctor has given you as it helps with the clotting process but change it often
- Rest and ensure that you keep your head upright during this time
- Refrain from chewing solid foods as this may aggravate the area where the extraction took place
- If you have been given medication take them as per your doctor’s instructions
- Do not take Aspirin as it slows down the clotting process
Do not smoke during the healing period