Teeth can become too extensively damaged from tooth decay , infection, or trauma to be saved. When this happens to one or more teeth, your dentist will often recommend removing the affected teeth. Tooth removal is also frequently recommended for children with severely crowded teeth that cause discomfort or have impacted wisdom teeth (third molar). Removing a tooth or teeth can help avoid or simplify orthodontic treatment .
The decision to remove a tooth is sometimes based on cost because it is often less expensive than restoring a natural tooth. This can be a short-sighted decision in terms of the long-term cost of additional treatments. Failure to replace a missing tooth can also impact your long-term health. It's important to understand these consequences.
Not all dentists perform tooth removal. Your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon for some or all of the procedures you need.
There are two types of tooth removal: "simple" and "surgical."
In simple tooth removal, a dentist removes a tooth in one piece without making an incision into the gums (gingiva). Generally, teeth removed in this manner have straight roots and sufficient tooth structure extending through the gums.
In surgical tooth removal, a dentist needs to make an incision into the gum tissue to remove the tooth, cut the tooth into pieces to more easily remove it, or both. It may also be necessary for the dentist to remove some jaw bone to extract the tooth safely.
Your dentist may recommend surgical tooth removal if a tooth is extensively damaged and has multiple curved or twisted roots. It is also typically required for an impacted tooth.
Some of the benefits of having a tooth or teeth removed include:
Both simple and surgical tooth removal have some steps in common:
Surgical tooth removal may involve one or more of the additional steps below:
Your dentist may recommend removing a wisdom tooth if it is infected or causing pain. Wisdom tooth removal may also be recommended if it's clear that the tooth will not enter your mouth properly, if the tooth may harm adjacent teeth, or if the wisdom tooth will crowd your mouth.
Some wisdom teeth can be removed without surgery. However, if the tooth is impacted and removal is recommended, surgery will be required. In some cases, wisdom teeth do not need to be removed at all.
Missing teeth can seriously impact your ability to chew, speak clearly, and your appearance. It can also lead to changes in your nutritional status and contribute to obesity, diabetes , and heart disease. It is important to replace any teeth that have been removed.
Ideally, an infected or damaged tooth can be treated before tooth removal becomes necessary. If removal is necessary, there are no true alternatives. In some cases, the root(s) of a tooth can be left in the jaw but may require root canal therapy . If roots are left in place, the dentist or oral surgeon is obligated to tell you so you can discuss expectations for healing.