Tooth Extractions: When They’re Necessary vs. When They’re Not
Understanding tooth extractions
Tooth extractions are one of those dental treatments that dentists and patients try to avoid whenever possible. After all, we only get a single set of adult teeth, so it’s important to do everything we can to save them and keep them healthy. When necessary, however, tooth extractions are often an essential part of restoring and protecting your oral health. So, what makes a tooth extraction necessary, how do you know when it’s reached that point, and how can this treatment benefit you? To help you understand the answers to these questions and more, we’ve put together a helpful guide on tooth extractions.
Why would a tooth need to be extracted?
There are a surprising number of potential reasons that a tooth may need to be extracted. A major cavity that goes untreated for a long time is a well-known cause of tooth loss, but infection or advanced gum disease, otherwise known as periodontitis, can also make a tooth extraction necessary. Major dental injuries can also make the procedure necessary, such as a major break in your tooth where there isn’t enough tooth left above the gumline for a crown to be placed over it.
If you have overcrowded teeth, your dentist may also recommend a tooth extraction to create more room in your mouth. This can be an essential step in orthodontic care—creating the space necessary to even out your smile and align your bite. Impacted teeth often need to be removed as well because they can cause oral health issues like decay or infection if they’re left alone. Wisdom teeth are often removed because of overcrowding or impaction.
Why is there such an emphasis on saving a tooth whenever possible instead of extracting it?
Your dentist wants the best long-term results for your oral health, and when it comes down to it, keeping as many of your natural teeth as possible is always best. Your natural teeth have a lot of important roles in your oral health, including one that you might not know about—keeping your jawbone healthy. The roots of your teeth provide your jaw with constant stimulation as you chew, sending signals to it that let your body know that it needs to continue sending nutrients to the area. When you lose a tooth, you lose that source of stimulation, and your body reacts by reabsorbing the bone in that area.
Additionally, the rest of your teeth begin migrating into the new gap that the tooth left behind, which can cause several oral health issues. It makes it harder to clean your teeth effectively, increasing the likelihood of developing cavities or gum disease, and the shift in the way your bite fits together can put extra strain on your jaw, potentially leading to TMJ pain.
Saving the tooth whenever possible allows you to avoid these potential issues. Plus, it keeps all your teeth—not just the damaged one—healthier in the long run. It also saves you the time and money involved with receiving a tooth replacement option like a bridge or dental implant. That’s a pretty good benefit just by itself!
How does your dentist determine whether an extraction is necessary?
The main way your dentist will likely determine whether a tooth extraction is necessary is by taking a dental X-ray. This incredibly useful diagnostic tool allows your dentist to see your entire tooth all the way to the root, and even part of your jawbone, in crisp detail. This is essential to determine the extent of damage from decay, infection, or injury, as well as to diagnose issues that can’t be seen in a standard evaluation because they’re beneath the gum line, such as infections or impacted teeth.
Sometimes, dental injuries show enough extensive damage that it’s clear an extraction will be necessary, but your dentist will likely still take an X-ray to get a better look at your tooth, the damage involved, and to plan the procedure.
What are the benefits of tooth extraction?
When it’s necessary, tooth extraction can be the key to restoring your oral health in many ways. It can rid your mouth of infection, preventing it from spreading and, in turn, saving your other teeth from damage. Since many of the issues that tooth extractions resolve can cause significant tooth pain, the procedure can transform the way you feel each day by removing the source of your pain. In fact, it can provide such a relief that many people experience less pain after their tooth extraction than they did leading up to it.
Other times, a tooth extraction can resolve less painful issues like overcrowding, setting the stage for orthodontic treatments that will improve your overall oral health and give you the straight, even smile you’ve always wanted.
What are the options for filling the empty space if needed?
Unless the tooth you extracted was a wisdom tooth or was removed to eliminate overcrowding in your mouth, you’ll need to replace it with a tooth replacement treatment. Thankfully, modern restorative dentistry has several options for you to choose from, including a dental bridge, implant, or dentures. A dental bridge is often used to replace one or two missing teeth and consists of a false tooth suspended between two dental crowns, which are placed on the healthy teeth on either side of the gap.
Dental implants are an incredibly versatile tooth replacement option because they’re made of titanium metal rods that are embedded directly in your jawbone and secured with a range of tooth replacement options. A single implant often supports a crown, but multiple implants can support a bridge, partial denture, or full dentures. This means you can replace all or most of the teeth on an arch with either traditional dentures or implant-supported dentures.
Implant-supported dentures are permanently secured in place on top of your implants, while traditional dentures are removable and held in place largely using suction. Despite this, traditional dentures that fit well still shouldn’t shift around in your mouth. There are quite a few differences between implant-supported and traditional dentures, and you can always ask your dentist for details if you’re trying to decide between the two. The wide selection of tooth replacement options available—as well as the ability to choose the size, shape, and shade of your new teeth—ensure that you can choose the ideal treatment method for you, one that meets all your treatment needs while giving you a refreshed smile you’ll genuinely love.
My Chico Dentist can help restore your smile.
Since you only get one set of adult teeth, tooth extractions are only performed when they’re the best option for your oral health. When they’re necessary, though, they can transform your oral health and the way you feel every day—and they can even be the first step toward giving you a beautiful, much more confident smile. If you’d like to learn more about tooth extractions or tooth replacement options, and which might be best for you, feel free to schedule a consultation with Dr. Robles or Dr. Yazdianpour.