You can feel your heart sink in your stomach — understandably so. A tooth’s been giving you problems, and your dentist suggests an extraction may be necessary. Lose a tooth? That’s for kids and old people, your heart stammers.
As your dentist, we’ll be honest with you: Tooth extraction is always a last resort. Your teeth are an essential part of your health. Teeth just aren’t meant to be removed.
But there are some cases when it’s absolutely necessary. Usually, our preferred method for treating damaged teeth is either installing a veneer or crown. But sometimes other factors weigh in that make a tooth extraction the best case scenario. The good news is we are professionals, and we can remove your tooth with as little discomfort as possible.
Common Reasons for Tooth Extraction
The most common reasons to have teeth pulled are trauma, disease or crowding. Perhaps a tooth cannot be repaired with a crown or filling. The decay is too extensive, or you’ve had an accident that has damaged the tooth, perhaps below the gum line where a crown cannot be attached.
Perhaps you have an infection you’ve long put off and have reached the point of no return. In this case, we’d recommend an extraction in order to deal with the infection quickly and efficiently.
You’ve had an Injury
If you have a dental emergency that involves an injury and there is not enough left of the tooth to save it, we may recommend removing it altogether. In this case, we’ll likely recommend a dental implant — a cosmetic fake tooth that is screwed into your jaw line and for all practical purposes functions as your original tooth.
The Best Solution to Extensive Periodontal Disease
Sometimes a tooth extraction is the best way to treat extensive periodontal disease — an infection of the gums. As the disease progresses, the gum may loosen and no longer be able to contain the tooth. In these cases, tooth extraction is often necessary.
When Cost is a Factor
Sometimes, we recommend extraction because other treatment options are just too expensive. When we rattle off some big numbers, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Keep in mind that we do offer a number of payment plans. One option is CareCredit, which is a credit line available specifically to cover the costs of healthcare, including dental. You might also want to talk to your bank about a potential loan.
Root canals are expensive. And when a root canal is necessary, it’s usually a good idea to put a crown on the tooth. When you take the root out of a tooth, it becomes dead and brittle — like a dried up twig compared to a healthy green one. It’s more prone to snapping, which is why we recommend a crown for most root canals. This can be a financial double whammy, costing as much as $1,500 even with good dental insurance. It may be more economically feasible to instead extract the tooth and replace it with a dental implant or other option when you are able to afford to do so.
The Difference between Simple Extractions & Surgical Extractions
Sometimes a tooth is readily available above the gumline and your dentist can just remove it with forceps. This is known as a simple extraction.
Occasionally, gum tissue or bone will need to be removed along with the tooth — a process known as a surgical extraction. This method for removing teeth is actually the most common type of surgery performed in the United States. As the name implies, it does involve surgery and will require stitches to close the site and heal properly.
We’ll typically do an x-ray and examine the tooth to see if a surgical extraction is necessary. Wisdom teeth typically require surgical extraction. If your tooth is broken because of an injury and there is not enough of a tooth left to grab, we’ll recommend a surgical extraction. Some procedures start off as a simple extraction, but the tooth breaks. In this case, we’ll likely have to make a surgical extraction and remove the tooth in pieces.
After the Procedure
Whether you have a simple extraction or a surgical extraction, proper followup care is essential to ensure the best healing outcomes.
The Reading Oral Surgery Group recommends the following:
- Bite down on a gauze pad for 30 minutes after the extraction to help stop the bleeding.
- Avoid unnecessary talking, eating and drinking for the first two hours after extraction.
- Drink plenty of lukewarm or cold liquids after the bleeding subsides.
- Maintain your diet, but start with clear liquids and soft foods for the first day.
- Don’t rinse or brush your teeth for 12 hours.
- Avoid the surgical area when brushing, although you can gently rinse with a diluted mouthwash or 1/4 teaspoon of table salt in a glass of lukewarm water
- Don’t use straws, smoke or spit forcefully as long as there is bleeding.
- Follow your dentist’s instructions on using any prescribed pain medications.
- Call your dentist if you have any persistent pain or bleeding.
- Don’t Worry — We’ll Be Gentle
If we do recommend tooth extraction, don’t worry. You’re in good hands. We promise to be gentle.
It’s natural to feel intimidated. Having a tooth pulled is never at the top of anybody’s list. But the good news is we can do the extraction gently and with the right amount of pain remedy so you feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible. It’s not like what you see on TV and in the movies. Gentle dentistry has come a long way. We’ll sedate the area so you don’t feel anything. If it’s a surgical extraction, we may put you under completely.