Dental professionals agree that tooth extraction, also known as exodontias, is one of the most dreaded dental procedures, perhaps because it encompasses forcefully removing a permanent tooth from its socket, in the jawbone.
Many people generally experience some kind of fear or anxiety whenever they think about going to the dentist, and this can be heightened when they know that a tooth will need to be removed. Fear of pain, concerns about the procedure, and worries about potential complications are all common causes of anxiety related to dental extraction.
However, tooth removal is a common and routine procedure that is performed by dentists and oral surgeons every day. There are various types of anesthesia available to make the procedure as comfortable and pain-free as possible, including local anesthesia, sedation, and general anesthesia.
Moreover, before extraction is considered as an option, dentists usually attempt to repair and restore that tooth. Though, it may still be necessary to pull it out depending on your case.
Here are some signs that may indicate that a tooth needs to be removed:
Reasons for tooth extraction
While permanent teeth can last a lifetime, it may be necessary to remove or extract those that have extensive decay or damage (cracked or broken) and cannot be repaired. For instance, any teeth affected by advanced periodontal disease may have to be pulled out.
Other reasons for removal include:
Severe tooth pain
If you experience severe tooth pain, it could be a sign of tooth decay or infection that may require tooth extraction.
If you have loose teeth, it could be a sign of advanced gum disease or tooth decay that may require extraction.
Fractured teeth from trauma
If a tooth has been severely damaged or fractured beyond repair due to trauma, such as a sports injury or car accident, it may need to be removed if it cannot be saved with a filling or crown.
Severe tooth decay
Tooth decay or damage that extends deep inside the tooth may allow bacteria to enter the pulp, resulting in tooth infection. If the tooth is severely decayed and cannot be restored with a filling or crown, your dentist may recommend removal to prevent the infection from spreading and causing further damage to the surrounding teeth and gums.
If a tooth is infected and cannot be treated with a root canal, it may need to be extracted to prevent the infection from spreading to other teeth or parts of the body.
Advanced gum disease (periodontitis)
If gum disease has caused a tooth to become loose or shift out of place, it may need to be removed to prevent further damage to the surrounding teeth and gums.
Impacted wisdom teeth
If wisdom teeth, or other teeth, are impacted, meaning they are not able to fully emerge from the gum line, they may need to be removed to prevent infection, pain, and damage to other teeth.
Mal-positioned or non-functioning teeth
Teeth that are misaligned or are redundant, because they have no contrasting teeth to bite against may have to be removed to avoid potential complications and negative impact to your oral health.
That said, removal of these teeth depends on the severity of the problem and your unique circumstances. In some cases, orthodontic treatment may be used to correct the position of the teeth, while in other cases, extraction may be necessary.
Tooth removal may be necessary if these teeth are causing:
- Discomfort, or
- Difficulty with eating or speaking
Additionally, if the teeth are impacting the alignment or function of surrounding teeth or are at risk of infection, extraction may also be recommended.
However, if the teeth are not causing any problems and are not likely to cause problems in the future, extraction may not be necessary.
To make room for orthodontic treatment
Tooth extraction may be necessary to make room for orthodontic treatment in the following circumstances:
- Crowded teeth – Supernumerary or extra teeth may prevent other teeth from erupting. So if the mouth is overcrowded and there is not enough space for all of the teeth to grow properly, some teeth may need to be removed to make room for others.
- Overbite: In cases where the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth excessively, extraction of one or more teeth may be necessary to help correct the overbite by making room for the remaining teeth to shift backward.
- Impacted teeth: Sometimes teeth do not fully emerge from the gum line and become impacted, or stuck, in the jawbone. In these cases, tooth extraction may be necessary to prevent infection, decay, and damage to surrounding teeth.
- Orthodontic preparation for other treatments: Tooth extraction may also be necessary to prepare for other orthodontic or dental treatments, such as braces or dentures.
Risk of infection
Your immune system may be compromised by procedures such as organ transplant, chemotherapy, and head and neck radiation therapy, causing your doctor to recommend tooth extraction prior to the procedure to remove a tooth that is at risk of.
This decision would depend on various factors such as your overall health, the location and condition of the tooth, and the specific treatment plan.
Chemotherapy drugs can weaken the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off infections, including dental infections. Additionally, some of the medications used to prevent organ rejection after a transplant can also weaken the immune system and increase the risk of infections.
It is important for individuals who have undergone chemotherapy or organ transplant to maintain good oral hygiene and receive regular dental care to help prevent infections.
Signs that you need a tooth pulled out
The reasons discussed above for tooth removal can have a variety of symptoms, including:
- Pain in the tooth or gums that may be severe or throbbing
- Pain when chewing or biting
- Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
- Inflammation or redness around the gums
- Foul taste or odor in the mouth.
- Fever or chills.
- Difficulty opening the mouth or swallowing.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck or jaw area.
- Pus or discharge around the affected tooth
- Bleeding gums
- Receding gums
- Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
- Visible movement or shifting of the teeth
- Gaps or spaces between the teeth
- Difficulty eating or speaking
- Headaches and/or earaches
- Crowding or shifting of adjacent teeth.
- Infection or abscess.
- Abnormal bite or jaw alignment
- Chronic jaw pain or discomfort
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
- Loose or shifting dentures or partials.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a dentist or periodontist for an evaluation.
It’s important to visit a dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings to prevent oral health problems that may require tooth extraction. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your teeth or gums, you should schedule an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.
In the event that a tooth has to be removed, it’s important to discuss all options with your dental professional to make the best decision for your specific situation.