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Knowing When to get a Tooth Pulled

It’s understandable that dental patients would rather not have a tooth extracted and there are instances when having to get a tooth pulled can be avoided, but only a dental exam by a qualified professional can determine if your situation is one where extracting one or more teeth will be necessary.

Common Reasons for Removing a Tooth

There are times when the best approach is to get a tooth pulled and times when a bad tooth can be saved through the process of a root canal. A root canal removes the infected or damaged inner pulp of a bad tooth and clears out the canals in which nerves grow into the outer boney structure. After such a procedure, the cleaned-out enamel shell is filled and sealed – keeping the natural tooth in place for many years to come.

There are other times when removing a tooth is the best choice, especially when the tooth structure is too severely fractured or when dental disease is extensive. Other reasons for removing a tooth include:

  • Gum Disease
    A prolonged period of gum disease that is not treated can destroy gum tissue, bone, and ligaments that support healthy teeth. When this structure deteriorates it become weak, loosening the hold on your teeth. If the gum disease advances without treatment, it may be time to get the tooth pulled, or the teeth may eventually fall out on their own.
  • Tooth Decay
    It is recommended to have dental exams at least twice per year to detect early signs of tooth decay. This way, you can avoid losing teeth due to bacteria that enters the flesh of a tooth, leading to advanced tooth decay and may require a root canal or having the tooth pulled.
  • Broken Tooth
    A tooth that breaks at or near the gum line may need to be extracted. A dentist or orthodontist can determine if enough visible tooth structure is available for a tooth restoration process, such as a crown.
  • Overcrowded or Impacted Teeth
    When the teeth of a patient are severely overcrowded, one or more teeth may be removed to create more space and promote proper alignment of the remaining teeth. Similarly, an impacted tooth that grows only partially beyond the gum line or is tilted at an abnormal angle may need to be pulled. Wisdom teeth are often impacted and may be removed.

Each of these dental problems will require x-rays to determine the extent of damage to the tooth enamel, roots, and supporting bone structure. Your dentist can then determine if a simple extraction, a surgical extraction, or keeping the tooth in place by other medical means is practical.

When Tooth Extraction is the Best Choice

There are signs that will indicate when a removing a tooth is the best choice for your dental health. Often with wisdom teeth, the only option is to have them removed to eliminate pain or positional problems. Additionally, when the affected teeth are extremely decayed, too damaged from trauma, or are causing secondary dental problems due to location – a tooth extraction may be the best choice. Here are other reasons why your dentist may suggest when it is time to get a tooth pulled versus saving the affected tooth:

  • not enough room on the gum line to support the tooth
  • to prevent the spread of infection due to advanced tooth decay
  • if you have a compromised immune system due to medical conditions or chemotherapy
  • when gum disease has advanced and teeth are too loose to remain
  • for cosmetic improvements or to enhance the patient’s bite

What to Expect if the Tooth is Removed

The risks and side effects of having a visible and reachable tooth extracted is minimum. The process is quickly done by a dentist or oral surgeon with the benefit of local or general anesthesia. If the tooth is below the gum line, broken, or impacted, then dental surgery may be required, and the cost of removal is greater.

When you get a tooth pulled, whether it’s a simple extraction or a surgical removal, the healing process involves protecting the open socket from food particles or agitating liquids and allowing the tissue to heal and close naturally. Pain relieving medication will be prescribed along with regular oral rinsing and sticking to a list of acceptable foods.

When it is time to get a tooth pulled, dentists will consult with patients on what options they have for tooth replacement. Depending on which tooth was removed (especially molars) and how many teeth the patient needs to have replaced, you will find many options:

  • Dental Implant – a replacement tooth is fused by dental post into the jawbone
  • Retained Bridge – a removable fixture to replace a few teeth and attaching to neighboring teeth
  • Fixed Bridge – multiple fixed-in-place teeth to cover gaps and does not require removal
  • Partial Dentures – a dental fixture to replace a section of teeth that are next to one another
  • Complete Denture – a complete set of teeth molded and shaped to fit the wearer

If You Keep the Tooth – What Next?

If one or more of your teeth are decayed or infected, it is always suggested to seek advice and treatment from a dental professional. Even untreated cavities can lead to bigger problems, including bad breath and increased sensitivity to hot and/or cold. Usually, pain and swelling are signs of a progressive infection that will need antibiotics before any other treatment can be performed. Crowded and impacted teeth are more difficult to clean and can cause food and bacteria to become trapped, which will lead to periodontitis or gum disease. Finally, broken and impacted teeth will affect your ability to properly chew foods, while tooth removal and dental replacements will promote the appearance of a healthy and beautiful smile.

When you are feeling any of these symptoms, it is time to get your tooth pulled. If you’re experiencing pain or misaligned teeth, contact Peak OMS to discuss your options for a dental extraction. We are one of Colorado’s leading practices for oral and maxillofacial surgery and dental implants.

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