Tooth extraction is the complete removal of a tooth from its socket. It’s often needed in cases where the tooth is too damaged to save, or when existing teeth are blocking other teeth from erupting. No one likes the idea of having teeth pulled. Not only does it sound unpleasant, but you can't help but worry about how your smile will look afterward. However, remember this: there is always a way to restore the appearance of your smile, but leaving a damaged tooth in your mouth can lead to permanent health repercussions.
The Risks of Oral Infection
Recurrent oral infections can spread to other areas and lead to dangerous health problems. Studies show that oral infections are linked with an increased risk of various conditions, including:
- Cardiovascular conditions, such as heart attack and atherosclerosis
- Damage to facial nerves
- Immune conditions
- Gastrointestinal conditions
- Diabetes and diabetic complications
- Fetal development problems, such as low birth weight
When there's an infection inside your mouth, bacteria have easy access to the inside of your body. This is why they can quickly spread to the heart, lungs, bone, stomach, blood vessels, and other structures. In addition to spreading bacteria, infection leads to general inflammation throughout the body that can increase your risk of many of the above conditions.
Because your body is always working to fight the infection, there's a constant strain on your immune system. This leaves fewer resources to fight other diseases, leaving you susceptible to additional health problems.
Handling Damaged Teeth: Can They Be Saved?
Most people want to save their natural teeth if at all possible. When a tooth becomes damaged beyond the need for a simple filling, the options are to either remove it or try to save it with a root canal. Although a root canal is designed to sanitize and seal off the tooth from further infection, this outcome is not 100% guaranteed. Damaged teeth may experience recurring infections even after treatment, or they may retain inflammation that creates health risks for your mouth and your whole body.
Our providers will advise you whether a root canal is likely to be successful. A tooth that is damaged beyond repair should be removed as soon as possible to protect your health. Even if you do receive a root canal, be on the lookout for recurring pain and signs of infection--root canals sometimes fail, and you'll need to be vigilant about taking further action if needed.
Reasons to Consider Tooth Extraction
Extensive damage: When fillings, root canals, and crowns aren’t enough to save a tooth, it will likely need to be extracted and then replaced with a prosthetic tooth. Children may need baby teeth extracted if they suffer from extensive decay early in life.
Risk of infection: Anyone with a weakened immune system is at higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease, and may need to have teeth extracted to prevent infection from spreading throughout the body. People at high risk of infection include cancer patients and those who have had organ transplants.
Impacted teeth: An impacted tooth is one that is blocked from pushing through the gum, either by other teeth or by excessive soft tissue. This can lead to inflammation and jaw pain, as well as an increased risk of gum disease and decay in the surrounding areas. Impacted teeth are frequently candidates for extraction to prevent complications.
Preparing for orthodontics: Sometimes there’s simply not enough room in the arch for all the teeth to sit comfortably. In these cases, some teeth may need to be extracted to solve the crowding problem. Crowding can also cause an adult tooth to erupt in the wrong place, failing to push out the baby tooth. The baby tooth must be removed before the crowding can be corrected with orthodontics.
Loose teeth due to periodontal (gum) disease: When the gums are infected, the underlying bone can begin to break down and cause teeth to become loose. Sometimes this process can be reversed with bone grafting, but if this isn’t an option for your health condition, then extraction may be necessary.