Emergency Tooth Extractions
WHAT ARE TOOTH EXTRACTIONS?
A tooth extraction is when a dentist removes a tooth from its socket. Patients often refer to this procedure as “pulling a tooth.”
WHEN ARE TOOTH EXTRACTIONS REQUIRED?
Dentists may recommend a tooth extraction for several reasons, including:
Sometimes, decay, disease, or cracking may damage a tooth too severely for repair work such as fillings or crowns to be effective.
Risk of spreading infection
If a tooth’s pulp becomes infected (or abscessed), a dentist often recommends root canal treatment. When a root canal and/or antibiotics don’t work, a dentist may remove the tooth to eliminate the source of the infection and prevent it from spreading.
Damage resulting from gum disease
Periodontal disease affects the bone and connective tissue that holds teeth in place in the jaws. Over time, periodontal disease destroys the supportive bones, gums, and tissue until they no longer support teeth effectively. When that happens, dentists will remove the loose teeth.
Dentists may extract teeth to prepare a mouth for orthodontic treatment, or to give other teeth appropriate room to grow in. Occasionally, people grow “extra” teeth or have teeth that are too big to fit into the space available in their jaws. Removing teeth like these gives other teeth more space to grow and settle into their proper places.
Sometimes, a tooth may be a particularly likely target for infection when a patient’s immune system has been severely compromised. A dentist may remove vulnerable teeth to prevent them from becoming infected.
Dentists often perform extractions in conjunction with other major medical operations, such as organ transplants or chemotherapy.
Wisdom teeth removal
The removal of wisdom teeth (a patient’s 3rd molars) is a very common procedure. Wisdom teeth don’t usually begin erupting until a person reaches age 17-25, long after the rest of the mouth has developed. Consequently, there’s often not enough room for them to erupt properly in the back parts of the jaws, or to erupt at all. T
These teeth often grow in at the wrong angle, or press against other teeth. Teeth that don’t fully erupt into their normal position in the mouth are considered to be “impacted.”
HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED A TOOTH EXTRACTED?
Only a dentist can tell you whether or not they’ll need to extract your damaged or decayed tooth. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms in your teeth, come in for a check- up right away:
- Pressure or pain when chewing
- Any tooth pain, whether it’s dull and persistent or sharp and intermittent
- Air or temperature sensitivity
- Tooth damage such as cracking or chipping
- Loose teeth
- Jaw, lip, or mouth swelling
- Bleeding gums or teeth
- Other common mouth or tooth pain
These symptoms are not necessarily indications that you need a tooth removed. We usually perform tooth extractions when we can’t treat a tooth’s damage or infection with other, more conservative treatments.
HOW DOES THE TOOTH EXTRACTION PROCEDURE WORK?
First, your dentist takes an x-ray of the problematic tooth and the area surrounding it. Once your dentist decides they’ll need to pull your tooth, they use the x-ray to determine how to extract the tooth most efficiently. Some extractions are quite simple, while others are more involved and require surgical skills and techniques. A few of the factors that affect the difficulty of an extraction are how decayed or fractured the tooth is, how long the root is, how much bone is holding the tooth in place, and how dense that bone is.
Your dentist can perform most extractions relatively quickly, without removing gum tissue or bone. First, the dentist uses local anesthetic to numb the tooth and the area around the tooth. Then we’ll use an instrument called an elevator to loosen the tooth by pushing it between the tooth and the surrounding bone. This forces the tooth against the bone, compacting it and making the tooth removal easier. Finally, once the elevator has done its job, the dentist uses a forceps to remove the tooth from the mouth. The dentist actually does a lot more pushing than “pulling” when performing an extraction.
On occasion, there might not be enough of a tooth left for the dentist to push against with an elevator or grasp with a forceps. Perhaps the tooth never grew in fully, or it decayed away or partially broke off beneath the gum line. In these cases, dentists usually need to push back the gums and remove some surrounding bone using a drill in order to make its removal possible. For teeth that have multiple roots going in different directions, sectioning the tooth into pieces is often necessary to be able to remove the tooth. After they remove the tooth, the dentist will usually close the incision with self-dissolving stitches.
Very challenging extractions are often performed by a specialist in oral and maxillofacial surgery. They have the training and licensure to administer intravenous sedation or general anesthesia to make the patient more comfortable during challenging extractions.
IF I THINK I NEED A TOOTH EXTRACTION, HOW SOON SHOULD I SEE MY DENTIST?
If you suspect you need a tooth extraction, you should come see us ASAP. We’ll be able to tell you where your symptoms are coming from and how we could fix them. If you come in soon enough, we may be able to solve your problem without removing the tooth at all.