Should you preserve or extract a problem tooth?

To save or to extract—that is the question, one that few people ever expect to have to answer. But life happens, and aside from your dentist recommending a tooth extraction, how can you know if it (rather than a restorative procedure like a root canal) is the best decision for your situation?

When to Extract a Problem Tooth

Dental health professionals will always try to help you maintain your natural teeth for as long as “healthily” possible. Normally, a tooth extraction is a last resort, meaning no filling, crown, or other restoration would work to help you keep the problem tooth and maintain good oral health. Instead of attempting to fix the tooth, then crossing your fingers and hoping the treatment takes, extracting it altogether is normally the standard of care.

Another reason why you may need to have a tooth pulled is if you require orthodontic treatment and there’s no “room” in your jaw to allow your teeth to move into proper position. Most of the time this situation happens when you have a small jaw and large teeth. Even with enough space in your jaw, wisdom teeth may at times not fully erupt, and if they’re not removed, this can open the door for infections, tooth damage, or changes in your bite alignment.

Sometimes removing a tooth from an area with advanced gum disease can help prevent the infection from spreading and causing additional tooth loss. Tooth extraction may also be necessary if there’s a risk of dental infection from cracked, broken, or decayed teeth and you plan to undergo a medical procedure that will compromise your immune system, like chemotherapy or an organ transplant.

When and How to Preserve a Tooth

Fillings are the first line of defense against tooth decay. By closing off the cavity, a professional dentist can restore the problem tooth back to its normal function. Even when decay or damage advances into the pulp and root canals, there’s still a good chance your dentist can preserve the tooth with root canal therapy, a procedure that involves cleaning out the infected tissue and refilling the space inside the tooth with a special dental material that protects it from further infection. Sometimes a loose tooth due to trauma can naturally tighten itself up after a couple of weeks instead of needing an extraction. Your dentist can also provide a splint to secure wobbly teeth during the healing process. In the early stages of periodontal disease, removing plaque may cause gum inflammation to go away, giving the tissues in your mouth time to heal and snuggle firmly against your teeth and helping you avoid extraction.

Warnings about Tooth Extractions

Even though most patients experience no adverse effects after getting a tooth pulled, there are a few potential complications you should be aware of. Bleeding for one to two hours is normal after tooth extraction; however, people with blood-clotting problems or those taking anticoagulants, such as heparin or warfarin, may experience more bleeding than normal. It’s always best to let your dentist know of any prescriptions you’re taking or health conditions you have prior to the procedure.

A dry socket is another complication you may experience after an extraction. This typically happens when a blood clot either doesn’t form on the extraction site or gets accidently removed either because of overbrushing or activities that involve sucking, like smoking or drinking with a straw. A dry socket usually causes extreme pain that even the strongest over-the-counter medications can’t dull.

Sometimes pain from the tooth extraction site can be the result of an infection and not a dry socket. An infection almost never happens unless you had it prior to getting your tooth pulled or you completely neglected your oral hygiene after the procedure. Regardless of the reason, if you notice any pus coming from the tooth’s socket, excessive bleeding, or symptoms of a dry socket, go back to your dentist for a checkup.

There are tooth replacement options available to you after an extraction.

Deciding whether to extract or save a tooth is never easy. Thankfully, even if your dentist recommends an extraction, you won’t have to live with a gap in your smile or a compromised bite. Book a consultation with the best dentist near Plano, Texas, Dr. Harrison, for a complete evaluation of your oral health. Even before getting your tooth extracted, we can use the information from your evaluation to recommend the best tooth replacement option for your particular needs.

Sometimes this can be a dental implant, to closely mimic the look and feel of a natural tooth, or a dental bridge, if you’re getting more than two teeth in a row extracted. A partial denture could also be an option for people missing multiple teeth on either the upper or lower jaw. Whatever your tooth replacement needs call for, our team at Millennium Dental is ready to meet them.