Now more than ever, Americans over the age of 65 still have a few, if not all their natural teeth. With new advances in the dental industry, patients now have tons of new ways of keeping their
natural teeth clean and free of bacteria and decay. However, in some cases, no matter how hard we try, our teeth become infected and need to be treated right away.
Your dentist may recommend a root canal procedure which can retain the outer shell of your natural tooth but replace the inner pulp with a filling. Typically, this process can save the natural tooth aesthetically for the patient. In some cases, no matter how hard the dentist may try, an infected tooth or a badly damaged tooth simply needs to be extracted to save the health of the teeth and jawbone that surrounds it.
Inside every one of our natural teeth, there is a soft tissue that is connected to the nerves of our tooth, called the pulp of the tooth. When the tooth becomes damaged and it starts to decay into the tooth’s pulp, the pulp becomes infected. When the pulp becomes infected or damaged, it can cause some series toothaches and sharp pains in the tooth! Typically, these infected teeth can be saved by your dentist by performing a root canal therapy.
A root canal therapy is a procedure in which your dentist drills into the natural tooth and removes the infected pulp from the tooth. Once the pulp is completely removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned, it is typically filled with a composite filling and sealed up with either a resin or a dental crown. Millions of teeth are saved from extraction every year from root canal therapy!
However, when a root canal procedure cannot fix the infection (if it’s reached a point beyond saving), the tooth must be extracted. The reason the tooth must be extracted is to firstly, alleviate the pain you feel from the infection and to also stop the infection from reaching your jawbone.
Accidents happen, and when an accident happens on your tooth it can cause extreme pain from the trauma felt on the tooth. Typically, your dental professional can repair damaged teeth by using a filling to fill in the cracks or fractures that were caused by the trauma. The cracks need to be filled so to prevent any infection from starting and spreading, and to prevent any decay. If a filling doesn’t do the job, a dentist may use a dental crown.
A dental crown is used to cover the entire surface of the tooth. It is typically made of a ceramic, porcelain or a metal material that is used to cover the entire tooth from just above the gum line and to the tooth’s surface. Dental crowns are used to seal up teeth after a root canal procedure or to cover up a badly traumatized tooth. When neither of these options help prevents decay of the tooth from spreading, the dentist has no choice but to extract the tooth to prevent further damage to the tooth and perhaps surrounding teeth as well.
One of the leading causes of natural tooth loss, aside from trauma, infection, or decay, is Periodontal disease. This is a gum disease that causes the gums to slowly detach from the teeth when there is an extreme amount of plaque or tartar build up around the gum line. When there is aggressive amount of tartar build up around the teeth’s gum line, the gums start to pull away from the teeth that create pockets of empty space that become infected. This is when patients start to notice their gums become extremely swollen, red and bleed often. If this disease is left untreated, the connectivity tissue that holds onto your teeth will start to lose its grip on your teeth because of the bacteria. In extreme cases, your teeth will start to loosen up on their own and a dentist may need to extract them to avoid the pains you may feel during this time.
Wisdom teeth start growing in, in our late teens or twenty-something age. In some (not so common) cases, wisdom teeth will grow in perfectly straight, unpainful, and don’t shift teeth and don’t cause trouble. However, in most cases, wisdom teeth grow in crooked and start pushing your other teeth in different directions, causing a misalignment. And for those who spent thousands of dollars on braces, this is not an ideal situation! Dental professionals remove wisdom teeth all the time, whether they’re fully grown in or they’re still underneath the gum line, dentists can remove them simply or surgically.
It is recommended to have your wisdom teeth pulled out before they start growing in and cause trouble. Even if your wisdom teeth are fully grown in and caused you no trouble at all, they may cause you trouble in the future as they are the hardest teeth to clean and they become more susceptible to infection in your thirties and forties. Talk to your dentist about whether it may be time to remove your wisdom teeth.
A surgical extraction is a more complicated procedure as it requires the dentist to cut into the gum line to retrieve the tooth. This is usually needed during a wisdom tooth extraction or if a tooth is broken well below the gum line. A local anesthetic should take away the pain felt during these types or extractions. You can also talk to your dentist about Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) to take away your nerves before and during the procedure as well!
Using a local anesthetic to numb the surrounding areas, your dental professional will likely loosen up your tooth and pull it out easily sing a tool called an elevator. These procedures are done when the tooth that needs to be extracted has grown well above the gum line for easy access. The dentist will use dental tools to loosen the tooth and lift it up and out of the gum line for a clean extraction.