Until you encounter a dental issue, most people don’t think much about tooth extraction. However, when it’s necessary to remove a tooth, you should have it done as soon as possible.
Dentists usually make every effort to save your original tooth. If the pulp is infected, a root canal can save the tooth from having to be extracted. If there’s a serious chip or crack, this can often be fixed with dental bonding or a crown. Tooth extraction is treated as a last resort.
But sometimes, the damage to your tooth is too severe. It could be pushing on the rest of your teeth, have a high risk of infection, or it could just be causing intolerable pain. In any case, tooth extraction can be a simple, common procedure.
What Is a Simple Tooth Extraction?
There are two types of tooth extraction: simple and surgical. A simple tooth extraction is defined as the uncomplicated extraction of a single, permanent tooth. The tooth must have a relatively normal location and positioning within the oral cavity.
If a tooth has erupted below the gum line or has failed to erupt, then a surgical tooth extraction is necessary, usually requiring incisions, stitches, and general anesthesia. Wisdom teeth removal often falls into this category, since these teeth are commonly removed before they erupt to forestall any potential alignment issues.
Why Is a Tooth Extraction for an Erupted Tooth Necessary?
A few different scenarios can lead to the need for a simple tooth extraction. They include:
- Severe fracture or decay of the tooth and/or its roots
- Inability to pay for an expensive restoration option such as a dental crown
- Preparing for orthodontic treatment. Sometimes, your teeth can be too big for your mouth, and one or more need to be removed so that the rest can be aligned properly.
- Infection or risk of infection. Tooth extraction is sometimes recommended for immunocompromised people, such as chemotherapy or organ transplant patients.
- Periodontal disease that has weakened or loosened the gums holding the teeth in place
Who Performs a Tooth Extraction for an Erupted Tooth?
General dentists and oral surgeons can perform a simple tooth extraction. It is up to the patient to make the decision. If your general dentist does not feel comfortable performing the procedure, they may refer you to a trusted oral surgeon.
What Happens During a Tooth Extraction?
Prior to the actual procedure, your dentist takes an X-ray of your teeth. The X-ray allows your dentist to determine the exact orientation and positioning of the tooth to make sure that there are no complications, such as the tooth or extraction tool contacting a nerve.
Typically, you are given a local anesthetic to numb the area around the extracted tooth. This consists of a topical anesthetic along with a local or injectable anesthetic and takes effect after only a few minutes. You won’t feel a thing during the actual procedure, and the anesthetic wears off after several hours. If you are prone to dental anxiety, or you need it for whatever reason, you can discuss full sedation with your dentist. In most cases, however, general anesthesia is not necessary.
Your dentist will then grab hold of the tooth using forceps, rock it back and forth to loosen it, and pull it out as gently as possible. Sometimes, a badly damaged tooth will break apart as it is being pulled and will need to be removed in pieces.
A blood clot then forms in the empty socket. Your dentist will pack a gauze pad into the socket and ask you to bite down until the bleeding stops. It is important to keep this blood clot in place since it protects your bone and gums from potential infection. If the clot breaks loose and exposes the underlying bone, a painful condition called dry socket, your dentist can place a sedative dressing to protect the socket until a new clot forms.
Finally, you are given a clear set of post-extraction guidelines to minimize any potential pain and avoid complications. These guidelines will include details on brushing, flossing, rinsing with salt water, rinsing with mouthwash, and eating and drinking suggestions.
What Is the Cost of a Tooth Extraction?
The cost of removing your tooth is influenced by several factors:
- The type of dentist performing the procedure
- The position of the tooth being extracted
- The type of anesthesia given
Most dental insurance plans cover the cost of a tooth extraction, since this is a simple procedure that is often considered medically necessary. If you do not currently have dental insurance and are concerned about the cost of tooth extraction, you might want to investigate the benefits of getting a family or individual membership in a dental plan.
Getting a tooth extracted can seem like an inconvenience, but when it’s necessary, you shouldn’t hesitate to visit your dentist. The procedure is simple, quick, and easier than ever.