According to recent studies, approximately 69 percent of adults in the United States lose at least one of their permanent teeth by the age of 44. The tragedy of tooth loss is that it is preventable in most cases. Humans grow only one set of adult teeth, and they’re necessary to biting and chewing, proper enunciation, and providing support for the soft tissues of the cheeks and lips.
Dr. Thornley prefers to preserve as much healthy tooth structure as possible when developing a patient’s treatment plan. On occasion, however, he will recommend tooth extraction for patients of his practice, specifically when the procedure can help the remaining teeth function better, protect the mouth from an invasive infection, or relieve severe discomfort.
Reasons For Extractions
Wisdom Teeth — A typical adult mouth can comfortably accommodate 28 permanent teeth. With the addition of four wisdom teeth, most people grow a total of 32. Officially known as third molars, wisdom teeth begin to erupt between the ages of 17 and 25, a time of life once referred to as the age of wisdom. By the time wisdom teeth begin to grow, there’s often little room left on the dental arches for them to fully erupt, which can lead to crowding, discomfort, and a host of other dental problems. Extracting wisdom teeth relieves discomfort and prevents existing teeth from being forced out of place.
Extreme tooth decay—In most cases of tooth decay, infected tooth tissue can be removed and replaced with a dental filling. If a considerable amount of tooth tissue needs to be removed, then a dental crown can reinforce the tooth against further damage. Sometimes, decay can consume enough of a tooth’s interior to render the tooth useless. If root canal therapy can’t salvage the tooth, then extraction is the best option to prevent the infection from spreading to nearby tissues.
Orthodontic treatment—Orthodontics refers to the science of straightening crooked teeth to improve the function of the mouth. Typical orthodontic treatment involves the use of braces to gently move teeth into their desired positions over time. If a tooth is too misaligned to be straightened, or if it impedes the progress of other teeth’s movement, then a tooth extraction can remove the obstruction and increase the chances of successful orthodontic treatment.
The Tooth Extraction Procedure
There are two forms of tooth extraction procedures—surgical and non-surgical. Non-surgical tooth extraction is the most common form and can be performed the same day as your appointment. For more complicated cases, a surgical tooth extraction may be required and Dr. Thornley will refer you to an Oral Surgeon.
Non-surgical—Non-surgical tooth extraction is performed with an instrument that grasps the visible portion of the tooth, or crown. After administering local anesthesia, Dr. Thornley will rock the tooth back and forth to dislodge the connective ligaments, and then gently lift the tooth out of its socket.
Surgical—Surgical tooth extraction is required when a tooth cannot be easily accessed and removed, such as when a tooth has broken or failed to erupt fully through the gums. The soft gum tissue lying over the tooth is elevated to allow access to the tooth. Sometimes, surgically splitting the tooth helps facilitate the extraction.