It is always our first priority to keep your natural teeth, whether through repair or restoration options. There are times, however, when a tooth needs to be removed. For example, if a baby tooth has misshapen or long roots that prevent it from falling out as it should, the tooth must be removed to make way for the permanent tooth to erupt. Or, a permanent tooth may have so much decay that it puts the surrounding teeth at risk of decay as well. In this case, your doctor may recommend removing the tooth and replacing it with an implant or dental bridge.
Other reasons that could require a tooth to be pulled include removing wisdom teeth, infection and crowding. If you’re in need of braces or other orthodontia, your doctor may recommend removing one or two teeth in order to make the correction. And finally, patients in need of organ transplants, chemotherapy or other major procedures may need to remove any less-than-perfect teeth in order to maintain optimal oral health.
The extraction process
If you have a tooth that requires an extraction, your dentist may either perform the procedure during a regular checkup or request another visit. Here’s how it works: The roots of each of your teeth are encased within your jawbone in a “tooth socket,” and your tooth is held in that socket by a ligament. In order to extract a tooth, your dentist must expand the socket and separate the tooth from the ligament holding it in place. While this procedure is typically very quick, it is important to share with your doctor any concerns you may have. Many dentists are happy to offer sedation to patients who are anxious or fearful about having a tooth extracted.
Once a tooth has been removed, neighboring teeth may shift, causing problems with chewing or with your jaw joint function. To avoid these complications, your dentist may recommend that you replace the extracted tooth.