As an adult, it’s possible to have as many as 32 teeth in your mouth. But not everyone has all 32 teeth, for a number of different reasons. In some cases, the last four teeth (the third molars, or wisdom teeth) never come in or have to be removed. In other cases, a person loses one or more teeth along the way, either because of an injury or because an extraction was required.
Often, tooth extraction is a last resort. Dentists will usually do everything in their power to save a tooth, from filling it to performing a root canal procedure, before deciding that extraction is the way to go. If your dentist is recommending a tooth extraction, whether of a wisdom tooth or another tooth in your mouth, here’s what you need to know and what you can expect.
Why Would You Need to Have a Tooth Extracted?
Although tooth extraction is usually a last resort, there are several reasons why a dentist might recommend the procedure. One reason is that the tooth or teeth are impacted. Impacted teeth are stuck in the gums or jaw bone and can’t fully erupt through the gums.
Teeth can become impacted for a variety of reasons. In some cases, they get stuck or impacted because there isn’t enough room in the mouth for them. That’s often the case with the wisdom teeth, but it can happen with other teeth as well. When a tooth doesn’t have enough space to grow in fully, it might come in at an angle, putting pressure on the other teeth in the mouth.
Impacted teeth can be harmless, but often they cause discomfort or pain or increase a person’s risk of developing an infection.
Another reason a dentist might recommend extracting a tooth is if the tooth itself is severely damaged. Often, damaged teeth can be repaired with a filling or a crown, but there are cases when the damage is severe enough that there isn’t enough of the natural tooth left to save it.
If a dentist extracts a damaged tooth, there are options for replacing it. They might recommend placing an implant in the gap to replace the tooth. Dental implants imitate the look and feel of natural teeth and are permanent.
Is Tooth Extraction Always the Best Option?
If your dentist recommends extracting a tooth, you can usually rest assured that they are recommending this course of action because they believe it is the best option for you and your overall oral health. When a dentist believes that other treatment options are a better fit or will provide better results, they are likely to recommend those before extracting a tooth.
If you have any questions about having a tooth removed or are interested in learning more about what, if any, other options are available, your dentist should be happy to discuss them with you.
What Happens During a Tooth Extraction?
What happens when you have a tooth removed depends in large part on the complexity of the procedure. If the extraction is simple, your dentist might merely numb the area around the tooth and gum before removing the tooth. More complex procedures, such as those involving impacted wisdom teeth, might involve the use of a sedative or general anesthesia before surgically extracting the tooth.
Another factor that influences a tooth extraction is the type of dentist who performs the procedure. An oral surgeon might take a different approach to extract a tooth or teeth compared to a general dentist, for example.
If you are interested in learning exactly what will happen during your extraction surgery, your dentist will be able to provide you with more details. They can also let you know if they recommend local anesthesia, a sedative, or general anesthesia while your tooth is removed.
What Happens After a Tooth Extraction?
Usually, you’ll need some time to heal after tooth extraction. Right after your surgery, your dentist is likely to place gauze in your mouth and to recommend that you put pressure (bite down) on the area. You might also be given some ice to help keep swelling down.
As your mouth heals, you might want to avoid eating certain foods, such as anything crunchy, spicy, or food that might cause irritation in the mouth. Your best bet during the healing process is to stick with soft, bland foods, like mashed potatoes and yogurt.
Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a periodontal specialist in the Miami area who also performs wisdom tooth extractions. He can talk to you about the extraction process and what you can expect before, during, and after. To schedule an appointment in Miami, FL, call 305-547-8687 today.