A Tooth Extraction Primer – First In A 2-Part Series!

As a San Diego Family Dentist, at Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists, a tooth extraction is one of the most common procedures we do besides regular dental hygiene care and thorough oral health checkups. And while we’ll always do our best to treat your tooth to save it, there are many reasons why pulling one or more teeth may be necessary, depending on your individual needs.

But why do we extract teeth instead of saving them?

For children and young adults, a tooth extraction is most often done to make room for adult teeth, to prepare for orthodontics treatment, or to prevent crowding, tooth damage, or jaw issues. Because everyone is different, we also have different dental needs. Here is a quick primer on some of the reasons that a tooth extraction may be your best course of action. Of course, this is only a guideline. If you’re concerned you may need a tooth removed, give us a call for a consultation of your unique dental needs.

Early Orthodontics

When there isn’t enough room in your child’s jaw, we may recommend extracting a tooth or teeth to allow for orthodontics treatment to move the teeth into their desired positions. The result is a balanced, functional smile that may not be possible with a full mouth of teeth – one that allows your child to smile and speak with confidence. This missing tooth or teeth become unnoticeable after orthodontics care.

Wisdom Teeth

If they haven’t been removed already for early orthodontics, wisdom teeth are commonly extracted to prevent dental health issues. Often our jaws are too small to accommodate these teeth that erupt in young adulthood. If they become impacted (stuck below the gumline), come in on their side or some other unusual position, or threaten your child’s oral health in any other way, we will often recommend extracting these third molars. Interestingly, not all people have four wisdom teeth (one at the back of each quadrant of your mouth) – some have none at all, and others just one or two.

Dental Trauma

Rough play, sports, or accidents can damage a tooth beyond repair. We will always do everything we can to prevent this type of tooth loss – fabricating custom-made mouthguards, for example. Preventive techniques also include root canal treatment and a dental crown, which is often the preferred treatment, but sometimes a tooth extraction after dental trauma is unavoidable.

Extensive Decay

At Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists our focus is on prevention and treating dental disease as soon as possible – when issues are smaller and easier to treat. But sometimes, dental decay is so extensive that it travels right through your tooth to the sensitive root below and causes a painful infection. If root canal therapy cannot clear the infection or the infection is too severe, a tooth extraction is your only option.

Damaged Restorations

Sometimes, if your bite is off or you clench or grind your teeth, your teeth can crack or break. If your bite is strong enough, and for many people it is, then old restorations could fail, while damaging your tooth so much that there is no way to bond a new restoration.

Periodontal (Gum) Disease

Your gums have an important job in protecting the ligaments and bones that keep your teeth firmly in their sockets. When gum disease progresses too far, your teeth loosen because your ligaments and bones are unable to hold them. A tooth extraction is sometimes the only solution when gum disease has progressed too far.

Tooth Extraction Aftercare

After your appointment, we’ll give you take-home instructions to help your extraction site heal. You can count on needing a few days to recover after having a tooth pulled. For the first 24 hours you’ll want to take it easy, avoid drinking through a straw, rinsing or spitting forcefully, and smoking. Take your painkillers as prescribed to help prevent pain and follow our aftercare instructions carefully. Enjoy a diet of soft foods such as soup, pudding, yogurt, and applesauce on the day of and after your extraction. Continue your oral homecare of brushing and flossing to prevent infection – but avoid the extraction site.

At Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists, we have many options to help you prevent dental issues in San Diego – and repair them if they do arise. Our kind and compassionate team is dedicated to creating an experience that puts you in control of your care and treatment options. If you’re in any kind of dental pain at all, let us help you get out of pain. And if you need a new San Diego family dentist to help you stay healthy and prevent dental issues, or rejuvenate your smile with cosmetic options, we’re here to help you make your unique smile dreams come true. Call us today – and let us help you gain control of your oral health and love your smile.

Yours in excellent oral health,
Dr. Amodeo and Dr. Lam, your San Diego family dentists

P.S. Be sure to check back next month to read all about Restoring Your Smile After A Tooth Extraction