There used to be a time, decades ago, when the go-to solution for dentists when their patients had a toothache was to extract the tooth. Luckily for us, dental technology has moved well beyond the days when a clamp was the dentist’s favorite tool. Today, we have a variety of restorative procedures like cavity fillings, root canals, and deep cleanings that can take care of the majority of your oral health issues.
That being said, however, there are still a variety of scenarios in which extracting a tooth is healthier and safer than trying to repair it. At Mint Dental Alaska, we reserve extractions as a last-case fallback procedure, but we nevertheless are qualified and prepared to perform extractions on teeth that require it.
Why would dentists need to extract a tooth?
Dental technology has developed to the point where the majority of common oral health issues can be treated by repairing the tooth somehow. However, there are still times when an extraction is necessary, such as when a patient has:
- Badly damaged teeth: In cases of severe tooth decay or other physical damage (like cracks and chips), a dentist might determine that repairing the tooth is impossible and that extraction is necessary. Typically the procedure is reserved for when there is literally no way to save the tooth.
- A crowded mouth: You’d think that your mouth would be prepared to handle 32 teeth, but, a lot of the time, a patient’s jawbone isn’t actually large enough to fit in the right amount of teeth. In these situations, an orthodontist might recommend that you visit a dentist to get some teeth extracted to make room in your mouth for the rest of your teeth. These extractions are designed to be as non-invasive as possible, and most patients finish their treatments with no side effects at all.
- Infection: In severe cases of tooth decay, the nerves in the soft pulp of the tooth can become infected by bacteria. Most of the time, the problem can be easily solved by root canal therapy, but this isn’t always true. If the infection is so severe that the dentist isn’t able to treat it otherwise, he or she may recommend extraction of the tooth instead. If an infection is left untreated, it can affect the other teeth in the mouth, so extraction in this case is seen as a very beneficial procedure. This is especially true if the patient happens to be particularly prone to infection (eg: if a patient is undergoing chemotherapy or has other immune system issues).
- Severe periodontitis (gum disease): Severe gum disease can cause the gum tissue and bones supporting a tooth to slowly wear away, causing the tooth to become loose. In some cases, an extraction may be needed to prevent further damage from happening to the tooth.
What is the tooth extraction procedure like?
Once a dentist determines that a tooth needs to be extracted, he or she will numb the area before carefully pulling the tooth out. The actual procedure is relatively straightforward; it’s with the aftercare that you need to be careful. Following the very precise directions given to you by your dentist and especially avoiding anything that could loosen the blood clot forming in the empty tooth socket can be crucial to preventing painful side effects like dry socket and abscess.
If you think you might need an extraction done, or if you want more information about the procedure and aftercare, make sure to consult a qualified dentist! At Mint Dental Alaska, we’re always happy to answer any questions you might have about the procedure. Simply call (907) 646-8672 to make an appointment to chat with one of our dentists!