A tooth extraction — also known as having a tooth “pulled” — is simply when a tooth is removed from the jaw. It’s typically used as a last resort to preserve the health of the mouth.
When Would You Get a Tooth Extracted?
The most commonly extracted teeth are wisdom teeth. These are the last molars at the back of the jaw, which often don’t have enough space to grow and erupt through the gum properly. While it’s very common for people to have their wisdom teeth extracted, it’s not necessary for everyone. Besides wisdom teeth, there are a few reasons to extract teeth. When a tooth is severely damaged, loose, or diseased, it can be necessary to remove it to prevent further damage to the rest of the mouth.
This is rarely the first option for most dentists outside of a few situations. It’s always preferable to leave natural teeth in their place as long as possible. Despite advances in dental treatments and technologies, nothing compares to a natural tooth in its natural position. If a tooth is damaged, dentists will first try to restore it. This restoration might take the form of a crown, a bridge, or a veneer. If the tooth is infected, particularly on the inside, a root canal will be used to clean out the infection and try to save the tooth.
There are some cases though where an otherwise healthy tooth does need to be extracted for the overall health of the mouth. These include:
Removing extra teeth that prevent other teeth from coming in through the gum.
Removing stubborn baby teeth.
Removing teeth to make more room if a person is getting orthodontic treatment such as braces or aligners.
How Are Teeth Extracted?
Depending on how the tooth is oriented in the jaw and the reason for the extraction, a tooth is extracted in one of two ways. A simple extraction is performed on a tooth that’s visible in the mouth. This is performed by a general dentist in a dental clinic. A surgical extraction is used on more complex cases. Some wisdom teeth, for example, tilt sideways in the jawbone and never erupt through the gum. That means that to remove the tooth, a dental surgeon has to open the gum and jaw to remove the tooth. Sometimes if a tooth breaks above the gum line, a surgical extraction is necessary to remove the tooth root.
Simple extractions are often performed with just local anesthetic, while surgical extractions are usually performed with conscious sedation and local anesthetic. Rarely is it necessary to use general anesthetic to remove a tooth, but it can be done.