When it comes to dental procedures, tooth extraction -or having teeth “pulled”- is among patients’ most dreaded prospects. Also referred to as exodontia, tooth extraction involves removing a tooth from its socket in the jaw bone. Before considering an extraction, every effort will be made to try to repair and restore your tooth. However, sometimes a tooth extraction is necessary.
There are several reasons for extracting a tooth. These include:
- Severe Tooth Damage/Trauma: Some teeth have such extensive decay, infection and damage (broken or cracked) that repair is not possible. For example, teeth affected by advanced gum (periodontal) disease may need to be pulled. As gum disease worsens, the tooth supported by less surrounding bone (bone loss) often loosens to such an extent that tooth extraction is the only solution.
- Malpositioned/Nonfunctioning Teeth: To avoid possible complications that may result in an eventual, negative impact on oral health, your dentist may recommend removing teeth that are malaligned .
- Orthodontic Treatment: Orthodontic treatment, such as braces, may require tooth extraction to make needed space for improved teeth alignment.
- Extra Teeth: Also referred to as supernumerary teeth, extra teeth may block other teeth from erupting.
- Radiation: Head and neck radiation therapy may require the extraction of teeth in the field of radiation in order to help avoid possible complications, such as infection.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy weakens the immune system, increasing the risk of tooth infections, heightening the risk of extraction.
- Organ Transplant: Immunosuppressive medications prescribed after organ transplantation can increase the likelihood of tooth infection. As such, some teeth require removal prior to an organ transplant.
Wisdom teeth removal is one of the more common categories of tooth extraction. Many dental professionals will recommend removing wisdom teeth (third molars) before they are fully developed, usually in the adolescent years, to help eliminate potential problems. One problem that could occur is development of an impacted tooth that has surfaced and has no room in the mouth to grow. Other problems associated with impacted teeth include infection, decay of adjacent teeth, bite interference and gum disease.
Options to replace missing teeth may include:
- Bridges (permanent)
- Partial denture (removable)