Tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the jaw bone. This section will give advice on all you need to know about having teeth removed. We will cover what the procedure involves, what you need to do at home to ensure healing and how to avoid complications. First though, we will explain the reasons why an extraction may be needed:
Reasons For Getting Teeth Out
If a tooth has been broken or damaged by decay, your dentist will try to fix it with a filling, crown or other treatment. Sometimes there is simply too much damage for repair to be possible or feasible. In such cases, extraction is needed, often to treat toothache. Very loose teeth also will require extraction if they can’t be saved.
The most common reasons for a removal are therefore when a tooth:
- Is too badly broken down, cracked or decayed to be repaired.
- Has become very loose (and/or is causing problems) due to gum disease.
Other possible reasons for having a tooth extraction are:
- If requested by an orthodontist, i.e. to make room to straighten the other teeth.
- There is an extra tooth that is blocking a adult tooth from coming into place.
- Removing a baby tooth to allow the adult counterpart to come into place better.
- Weakened teeth due to cancer treatment.
- Wisdom teeth commonly come in during the late teens or early 20s. They may need to be removed if they are causing symptoms. If there is insufficient room for them they can get impacted in the jaw. This impaction can cause pain and swelling, termed pericoronitis. If this is severe or if it occurs more than twice then extraction is indicated. See our section on wisdom teeth for a lot more advice on this problem.
Tooth Extraction Procedure
If a tooth is deemed beyond repair, the next step is obviously getting it removed. But as teeth vary so much in terms of their size, condition and how much bone holds them in, the procedure itself can vary greatly. The majority of extractions are ‘routine’. Teeth that are harder to remove while require ‘surgical’ extraction procedures. We have more detail on the extraction procedure here.
Aftercare Advice for Extractions
Once you’ve had a tooth out, there are several steps you need to take in order to ensure fast healing. Following these steps also ensures as pain-free a recovery as possible. Your own dentist will give specific advice, but see our page for a general list of aftercare advice instructions.
Complications of Dental Extractions
As with any surgical procedure, there are various possible complications and problems that may occur after an extraction. One common, painful, problem is that of dry socket. For lots of information on this and the various possible complications (and how to avoid them!!) see this page.
Getting a tooth out is a common treatment, and one not to get too worried about if you are facing it. Following the aftercare advice is the most important part to ensure healing.
As most tooth extractions are avoidable, you should try to learn why yours was needed and what steps you can take to prevent further loss of teeth!