While in most situations dentists will do everything possible to save a tooth or teeth, sometimes the only option available is a tooth extraction procedure. There are cases, though, in which teeth are redundant, or are getting in the way of the placement of a replacement prosthetic. In these cases, the dentist will extract the tooth for the overall wellbeing of the patient.
Why Tooth Extraction?
Tooth extractions can be necessary for a variety of reasons. One reason for a tooth extraction is damage to the tooth. If a tooth has become decayed, infected, cracked, or otherwise broken, the only option a dentist may have is to remove the tooth. When this damage is caused by an accident, often an emergency dentist will need to pull the tooth. Another reason for tooth extraction is the placement of dentures.
Finally, dentists will remove redundant teeth for preventative measures and/or to ensure the safety of the surrounding teeth and the patient’s overall oral health. Generally, the redundant teeth that are being removed are the patient’s wisdom teeth.
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Wisdom Teeth Information
Wisdom teeth are additional molars that form later on in a patient’s life. They generally erupt between the ages of 17 and 25. While these teeth may not pose an immediate threat, many dentists will remove them as a precaution. Wisdom teeth may impact healthy teeth as they erupt—causing damage and teeth migration. Wisdom teeth can also make it more difficult for a patient to take proper care of their oral health by making it more difficult to brush and floss certain areas. This can lead to the formation of bacteria, which in turn leads to tooth decay and gum disease.
Because of these reasons and more, a dentist may decide that the best option for the patient is tooth extraction.
Tooth Extraction Process
The tooth extraction process depends on the tooth that is being extracted, and why it is being extracted. For a damaged or infected tooth, a dentist may simply pull the tooth with a special instrument. In the case of wisdom teeth removal, on the other hand, more intensive measures may need to be taken.
The removal of any tooth will start with the use of anesthetic. For the surgical removal of wisdom teeth, a general anesthetic or IV may be used. The dentist will then slice into the gums and remove the wisdom teeth. Once the procedure is complete, the dentist will sew the area back up. Often times, the entire tooth extraction process takes around 45 minutes to complete.
Tooth Extraction Aftercare
The full healing process of a tooth that has been removed can take a while, but the first 48-72 hours are some of the most important for the healing process. In the first 24 hours, hot liquids and foods should be avoided. A patient should not rinse heavily, suck through a straw or smoke for the first 72 hours or longer (depending on the advice of the dentist). Brushing should be done with precaution and care.
If a tooth is being removed, time off may need to be taken from work. Local anesthetic will take time to wear off, making it difficult to eat and communicate. After a wisdom tooth removal procedure in which a patient was given general anesthesia, a patient will be unable to drive or properly function for a few hours. Because of this, the patient will need someone to drive them home and care for them.
Take special care of the area of the tooth extraction until it has been given a chance to fully heal.
Tooth Replacement Options
Unless it is wisdom teeth that have been removed, your dentist will want to replace a tooth after a tooth extraction, or the extraction of multiple teeth. There may be different options for replacement, depending on a few different factors. Below are three common tooth replacement options that a dentist may consider after a tooth extraction procedure.
A dental bridge is a dental prosthetic that often involves the use of an abutment to hold a false tooth or set of teeth (pontic) in place. This is an excellent option for patients that cannot have a dental implant placed. Dental bridges help to keep the patient’s teeth from shifting and migrating, helping to ensure the health of the patient’s remaining teeth. Dental bridges also help to restore the patient’s bite—allowing the patient to bite and chew many foods that would be more difficult to eat without the prosthetic.
Dental implants are a very durable and strong tooth replacement option, and are preferred by many dentists and patients. Dental implants involve the placement of a titanium screw or frame in the jawbone of the patient, in which a false tooth or set of teeth are secured. This allows for an additional level of strength, and allows the patient to bite and chew in a way that is extremely similar to how they did before the placement of the implant.
Dental implants require strong jaw bone tissue in order to place, which means some patients will not be candidates for this procedure. If a patient does not have adequate bone tissue, a bone graft may be an option. Bone grafts are not available to all patients though.
If the option is available, dental implants provide a level of support that makes them a preferred replacement option.
For patients that need a significant amount of teeth extracted, dentures may be the best replacement option. These prosthetics replace a significant portion—or all—of a patient’s teeth. If there are enough healthy teeth available, a dentist may place partial dentures. Otherwise, full dentures will be placed.