For the record, as dental professionals, tooth extraction is usually a last resort. There are many reasons for this, but the main reason is to allow you to have the highest level of function possible. Your teeth were put there for a purpose. Their purpose is to function in a way that’s efficient and painless. For some, even the idea of getting a tooth extracted can be a scary one. We understand this. Teeth aren’t meant to be removed. But, there’s good news. Extracting a tooth is something a skilled dentist or oral surgeon is very familiar with and something they do frequently, should it be the best treatment plan.
So, when IS tooth extraction the best option? When is it the ONLY option? There are a few reasons when extraction may be indicated, such as trauma (broken tooth below the gum line), problematic wisdom teeth or for orthodontic reasons. But, the most common reasons are due to periodontal disease and decay.
Say your tooth is really loose because the bone and periodontal ligament fibers (the “Velcro” that attaches the tooth to the bone) have deteriorated because the bacteria have grown very strong. Now, the very foundation of your tooth is compromised. In this case, extraction may be indicated. Or, say you haven’t been the dentist in a few years and that tooth on your lower left that used to ache occasionally has now broken off below the gum line. Chances are, the decay started small and grew slowly enough over the past 3 years that it has silently broken down the internal structure of the tooth, causing it to break. Getting that tooth extracted and replacing it with a dental implant or a bridge may be the best treatment plan.
What does this mean for you? Well, thankfully you have more control over avoiding our dental chair for an extraction than you may realize. First, brush twice a day and start flossing more than you do now. Even if that’s starting with once a week. You have to start somewhere, right? Second, make sure to get dental check up’s at least twice a year and have your teeth cleaned as often as your dentist and dental hygienist recommend. Finally, call us with any questions or concerns you may have. We are here to help you!
So, the goal is this: keep your existing teeth as long as possible. Prevention is always more cost efficient than treatment. Regardless of what caused the problem, the goal is to catch these issues while they’re still small and have done less damage.
-Trisha R., RDH