Why are teeth removed?
While many teens and some adults get their wisdom teeth removed, there are other reasons why tooth extraction may be necessary in adulthood.
Excessive tooth decay, tooth infection, and crowding can all require a tooth extraction. Those who get braces may need one or two teeth removed to provide room for their other teeth as they shift into place. Additionally, those who are undergoing chemotherapy or are about to have an organ transplant may need compromised teeth removed in order to keep their mouth healthy.
Tooth extraction is performed by a dentist or oral surgeon and is a relatively quick outpatient procedure with either local, general, intravenous anesthesia, or a combination. Removing visible teeth is a simple extraction. Teeth that are broken, below the surface, or impacted require a more involved procedure.
How to prepare for a tooth extraction
Before scheduling the procedure, your dentist will take an X-ray of your tooth. Be sure to tell your dentist about any medications you take, as well as vitamins, supplements, and over-the-counter drugs.
Tell your dentist if you will soon be treated for another medical condition with an intravenous drug called a bisphosphonate. If so, the extraction should be done before the drug treatment, or your jaw could be at risk for osteonecrosis (bone death).
What is the procedure for a tooth extraction?
Your tooth extraction will either be simple or surgical, depending on whether your tooth is visible or impacted.
You will receive a local anesthetic, which numbs the area around your tooth so you’ll feel only pressure, not pain, during the procedure. The dentist then uses an instrument called an elevator to loosen the tooth and forceps to remove it.
You will likely receive both local anesthesia and intravenous anesthesia, the latter of which makes you calm and relaxed. You may also receive general anesthesia, depending on any medical conditions. With general anesthesia, you will remain unconscious during the procedure.
The general dentist or oral surgeon will cut into your gum with a small incision. They may need to remove bone around your tooth or cut your tooth before it can be extracted.