Tooth extraction: Causes, types and preparation

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Tooth extraction is the process of removing a tooth from your mouth. This relatively simple procedure...

Tooth extraction is the process of removing a tooth from your mouth. This relatively simple procedure is normally performed by your dentist or an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. There are only two types of tooth extraction, but there are many reasons why a tooth may need to be removed.

Reasons for tooth extractions

  • When a tooth becomes abscessed, gum disease or a bacterial infection erodes the surrounding bone. Sometimes, antibiotics or a root canal can save the tooth. If not, the tooth will need to be extracted.
  • A very loose tooth also needs to be extracted from the mouth.
  • Sometimes, teeth need to be extracted because they are blocking other teeth that need to grow in your mouth.
  • If you get braces, some of your teeth may need to be taken out to make room for other teeth.
  • Wisdom teeth--or third molars--can grow in the jaw, causing pain and infection, and need to be extracted.
  • If you receive radiation treatment in the head or neck region, some of your teeth may need to be taken out.

Two types of tooth extraction

A simple tooth extraction is used to remove a tooth that is visible. The dentist loosens the tooth and then uses forceps to extract it.

A surgical extraction may be required if the tooth is below the gum line. The dentist or oral surgeon makes a small cut into the gum to extract the tooth. Sometimes, some of the surrounding bone may also need to be removed.

Before the extraction

Your dentist will take an X-ray of your mouth to gain a clear understanding of the location of the problem tooth and prepare for extraction. For a simple extraction, you may be given a local anesthetic by injection.

For a surgical extraction, you may be given antibiotics if the tooth is infected or if you don't have a strong immune system. Right before the surgery, you may be given general anesthesia and also an IV, depending on the severity of the extraction. An Atlanta-area dentist can give you more information and advice.

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