You've probably heard that dentists prefer to preserve your natural teeth whenever possible. Often, dentists prefer to correct a tooth problem with root canals, crowns, or other restorative measures in the interest of preserving the natural tooth. And yet, tooth extractions are the most common surgical procedure in the United States – more than 20 million of them are performed every year. Why? Although preserving the natural tooth is preferable, there are several situations where an extraction actually is the best treatment option. Take a look at the most common reasons why you might need a tooth extraction, and one situation that where routine extractions may not actually be necessary.
Trauma is a good example of a case where a tooth extraction may be necessary. Sure, some cases of trauma to a tooth can be repaired. A small crack or chip in your tooth may be bonded or covered with a crown. However, when a tooth is broken or severely fractured, and especially when a tooth breaks off below the gum line, your dentist may have no choice other than to remove the tooth entirely to avoid leaving fragments under the gums.
Crowding is the term used when the dental arch can't accommodate the number of teeth in the patient's mouth. This condition leads to teeth that are crooked or stick out at odd angles. While crooked teeth can often be fixed with orthodontic work, mouths that are crowded require removal of the excess teeth before orthodontic work can even start.
Crowding is more than just a cosmetic problem. Crowding makes it difficult for you to properly clean your teeth with a toothbrush or dental floss. Overlapping teeth may be impossible to clean thoroughly, so plaque and bacteria can grow in those overlapping areas. This can lead to infection, decay, and gum disease. And if there isn't room for all the teeth on the dental arch, orthodontic straightening can't adequately fix the problem. Therefore, extracting one or more teeth may be the only option to allow for thorough cleaning and prevent cavities and disease.
Gum disease is one more reason for tooth extraction. While an infection that is contained in the pulp of the tooth may be treated by a root canal, an infection that's spread to the gums, especially one that's severe enough to have loosened or seriously damaged the tooth, may need to be treated by pulling the tooth before the infection can spread to the nearby teeth, gums, and jawbone.
While tooth extraction is an effective way to prevent disease from spreading through your mouth, it does come with some risks. Removing an infected tooth can introduce the infection into your bloodstream. For this reason, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics for you to take before and after the procedure, especially if you have additional risk factors, like heart problems, a weakened immune system, or recent surgeries.
If there's one time when most people expect to hear their dentist recommend a tooth extraction, it's when their wisdom teeth grow in. For many years, dentist routinely removed wisdom teeth soon after they emerged, to prevent crowding, misalignment, or infection.
However, that practice may be changing. Some dentists say that healthy wisdom teeth that don't crowd the jaw are OK to keep. Your dentist may recommend more frequent X-rays to ensure that they don't become infected, but in cases where the wisdom teeth are healthy and not negatively affecting your mouth, it may not be worth the risks of surgery and anesthesia to have them removed.
There are good reasons why a tooth extraction may or may not be the best course of action, even though you might have expected otherwise. If your dentist recommends a tooth extraction, don't be afraid to ask why an extraction is preferable to a root canal or some other procedure. For more information, contact a company like Renovo Endodontic Studio.