If you're suffering from a toothache, we feel for you. Rest assured, you're far from alone. According to the CDC, over 40% of adults felt pain in their mouths within the last year. But even with pain, how can you know when you need to have a tooth pulled?
In the past, it was common for people to have any tooth that was giving them pain extracted. Now, we're a lot more careful and try to preserve our natural teeth whenever possible. But sometimes, the game's up, and it's time to pull a tooth and investigate restorations instead.
But when should you pull a tooth, and when can you save it? Let's explore the answer together.
When Does a Tooth Need to Be Pulled?
If you're suffering from severe tooth pain or teeth sensitivity, there's a large possibility you have a cavity. Also called caries, they're holes created in the teeth by acids in the mouth. A cavity causes a tooth to decay and becomes serious when it enters the tooth's pulp.
An infection in your tooth, also called an abscess, can become a serious medical issue. It can spread to the surrounding tissues and other teeth. In severe cases, this can lead to a life-threatening condition called sepsis.
Your dentist will first drain the abscess and thoroughly clean the cavity. You may need a course of antibiotics to clear the infection.
If the infection clears up and the damage is not too extensive, your dentist may recommend a root canal treatment, a more comprehensive method of filling a cavity that also fills the root canal. After this, you'll need a dental crown to replace the tooth's damaged part.
But you may need to have the tooth pulled if the infection is too extensive or you're at higher risk because of other medical conditions.
Extracting the tooth may seem drastic. But it's more important to safeguard your oral health and remove the tooth when there's a medical need.
Under normal circumstances, our teeth emerge through the gum and take their position alongside the rest of our teeth. But sometimes, a tooth fails to emerge and becomes impacted, trapped in the gum.
You may feel pain in the impacted tooth when you chew, and the surrounding gum may become sore and inflamed. The tooth also becomes prone to decay because it may be hard to clean.
You're most likely to have an impaction in your wisdom teeth. They can also start to pressure adjacent teeth and cause gum disease. Your dentist may recommend extracting your wisdom teeth if they're starting to cause you problems.
In some patients, there is not enough space in the jaw for all the teeth trying to emerge, leading to overcrowding, with teeth jostling for space. Overcrowding causes bite and aesthetic issues and can make it hard for you to keep your teeth clean.
Your dentist may recommend extracting one or more teeth before starting a straightening treatment to make room for the rest of your teeth to assume healthier positions.
Teeth can become damaged through accidents or extensive decay. A tooth cracked or broken in an accident is also more prone to infection. Your dentist may recommend pulling a tooth if the damage is too extensive to fix with a root canal filling and dental crown.
Severe Gum Disease
You risk losing your teeth when gum disease progresses from its milder form of gingivitis to the more severe periodontitis.
Pockets can open between the gums and the teeth when your gums have inflammation for a long time. When these pockets fill with bacteria, they can start to eat away at the teeth and the soft tissues. Your dentist may have no choice but to extract one or more of your teeth if the condition persists without treatment.
How the Tooth Extraction Process Works
Your dentist will talk you through the process, including explaining which form of anesthesia is best for your situation.
Your dentist will take x-rays before starting the procedure. They may need to open the gum if you have an impacted tooth, or they may break the tooth into several pieces to make the extraction easier, as teeth can be difficult to remove.
Arrange for someone to drive you home afterward and follow your dentist's aftercare instructions.
Restorations to Fill the Gap
Tooth extraction does not mean you will have a gap in your teeth forever.
Bridges are a common way to fill the gap. Your dentist will attach crowns to the teeth on either side, bridging the gap left by the missing tooth.
Dental implants are the most comprehensive solution.
A dental implant involves implanting a titanium post in the jawbone in place of the tooth's root, forming firm support for a dental crown. Dental implants feel more natural than other restorations and can last a lifetime with good care.
Prevention Is Better Than Pulling
While extraction can relieve dental pain, it creates other problems. Many of the conditions discussed above are preventable. Practicing preventative dental care is the safest way to keep issues from developing.
The Importance of Brushing and Flossing
We know you've heard it a thousand times before. But the best form of preventative dental care is still to brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day.
Dental problems can develop quickly. A dental check-up every six months allows your dentist to spot and treat minor issues before they become more serious. They're also a great chance to get reminders about caring for your teeth.
Don't Suffer in Silence. Visit Arkansas Family Dental
Are you ready to visit the dentist now that you know when you should have a tooth pulled?
Don't let tooth pain get you down and do more damage. The sooner you get treatment, the better your chances of saving your tooth.
Click here to learn more about the importance of teeth cleaning, and schedule your visit to our Little Rock office today!