If a tooth has been broken or damaged by decay, your dentist will try to fix it with a filling, crown or other dental treatment. But when there's too much damage for the tooth to be repaired, the tooth may need to be extracted — or removed — from its socket in the bone.
There are two types of extractions:
A simple extraction – this procedure is on a tooth that can be seen in the mouth. For a simple extraction, the dentist loosens the tooth with an instrument called an elevator. Then the dentist uses forceps to remove the tooth.
A surgical extraction – this is a more complex procedure, which is used if a tooth may have broken off at the gum line or has not erupted in the mouth. The oral surgeon will make a small incision into your gum to surgically remove the broken tooth or impacted wisdom tooth.
You want to keep your teeth for a lifetime, but circumstances can arise that prompt your dentist to recommend removing a tooth for the good of your dental health. And although many of your teeth are easily removable, it's occasionally more complicated, and requires a more involved procedure. Here's why the surgical extraction of teeth may become necessary, and how your dentist differentiates these procedures from others.
Why Can't a Tooth be Saved?
The American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy site suggests teeth are usually removed due to trauma, disease or crowding. When a tooth cannot be repaired with a filling or a crown because of an accident or extensive decay, an extraction may be your best recourse. Teeth that aren't supported by enough bone due to periodontal disease are also candidates for removal, according to Warren Dentistry, necessitating the use of a gum-protecting toothpaste following extraction. Infected (abscessed) teeth that don't respond to root canal treatment may need to be taken out, as well.
Simple Extractions vs. Surgical Extractions
The surgical extraction of teeth is actually one of the most common surgical procedures provided in the United States. When a tooth is visible above the gum line and your dentist can easily remove it with forceps, the procedure is called a simple extraction. If a more volatile tooth has yet to grow in, however, your dentist needs to remove gum tissue or bone in order to extract it. This is called a surgical extraction, and requires stitches to close the site so that it can heal properly. The doctor may also prescribe a more specific pain medication following the procedure.
Reasons for Surgical Extractions
By taking an x-ray and examining your tooth, your dentist can usually determine whether or not your extraction will be simple or surgical. But there are times when a simple extraction turns into a surgical. If a tooth breaks off during the procedure, for instance, it may need to be taken out in pieces.
Wisdom teeth often face surgical extraction because they're usually impacted, meaning they are not completely erupted into the mouth. This condition requires cutting through bone and tissue. Removing severely broken down teeth, root tips or teeth with long-curved roots are other examples of surgical extractions. Then there are times when the bone around a tooth has become dense, resulting in the need for surgical treatment.