Why do teeth need to be removed (extracted)?
A tooth usually consists of an outer crown located outside the gums and a root(s) located under the gums and encased within the jawbone. Damage to the crown or root can occur as a result of trauma or bacteria penetration.
Trauma can cause a tooth to fracture. A tooth is similar to other bones but only blood vessels in its inner layer. Blood is necessary for healing but can not reach and thus help repair fractures in a tooth’s outer layers. Thus a tooth fracture can not heal, and may be too brittle to withstand chewing stress. Sometimes the fractured tooth can be repaired with a restoration or crown (cap), which can reduce the chance the tooth experience more damage. Other times the fracture is too extensive to be repaired and may need to be removed.
Bacteria release acids that can soften or cause decay within a tooth. Bacteria can enter canals located within the root(s), which contain nerves and cause pain. Since the canals open up at the end of a tooth’s root, bacteria can travel from a tooth’s canal to the jawbone outside the root and cause infection.
Bacteria can also eat through the jaw bone causing it to recede, resulting in less support for teeth. A tooth with weak bone foundation can loosen. Teeth that have fractures, infections, or lack solid bone support may need to be removed.
What happens when a tooth is extracted?
A tooth is surrounded by a ligament (a thin flexible cover that connects it to the surrounding jaw bone). Removal of the tooth entails separation of the tooth from the ligament and bone. Using sharp thin tools the ligament-tooth connection can be severed and the tooth can be wiggled free of the bone. Once it separates from the ligament and bone it can be removed with a thin pliers-like forcep.
What will happen to the nearby teeth after the tooth is extracted?
Teeth tend to lean forward and erupt outward when no other teeth are in their way. Hence teeth located behind missing teeth tend to tilt forward and teeth that oppose spaces teeth tend to erupt further and become taller. As teeth move spaces can develop allowing food and bacteria to get trapped. Mal-aligned and hyper-erupted teeth may not chew food as effectively or comfortably as properly aligned teeth. A missing tooth can be replaced by a removable partial denture, and bridge or a dental implant that is covered by a crown.
Is an extraction Painful?
Modern anesthetics and techniques have enabled dentists to reduce and often eliminate all pain associated with dental treatment. Local Anesthetics injected near the problem tooth can eliminate “sharp” pain but some people can still feel pressure or discomfort. Nitrous oxide (a gas that can be painlessly inhaled through a mask) or anti-anxiety medications can help calm people and lessen their awareness of any negative sensations associated with dental treatment. Medications that induce sleep (sedation) can be given to people who are unable to tolerate dental treatment while awake.
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