Studies show that about 5 million Americans get their wisdom teeth removed every year. However, having a natural tooth removed should always be the last resort. Typically, your natural teeth are meant to last a lifetime and should only be removed if they are too damaged to treat the problem. A dentist will recommend a tooth extraction only if the tooth is painful or severely damaged.
Here are the four main reasons for tooth extraction:
1. Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is the leading cause of tooth extraction. Cavities are caused by various factors, including:
- Bacteria in the mouth
- Poor oral hygiene
- Frequent snacking
- Sipping sugary drinks
How do cavities form? Bacteria in the mouth digest foods containing carbohydrates to produce acid. This acid combines with saliva to form plaque that dissolves the tooth's enamel to create holes called cavities. If the cavity is mild, it can be removed through dental canal treatment. However, if the tooth's pulp is severely damaged, the tooth has to be extracted.
2. Gum Disease
Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is an infection that severely damages the soft tissues of the gum. This oral condition is associated with poor oral hygiene and is, therefore, preventable. The main symptoms of gum disease include:
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Loose teeth
If left untreated, periodontitis can significantly destroy the bones that support the teeth. Consequently, the teeth become loose and have to be extracted.
3. Traumatic Damage of Tooth
Dental trauma is caused by injury to the gums, teeth, and nearby tissues. Trauma to the teeth is caused by:
- Auto accidents
- Injuries from various sports, such as soccer, baseball, and volleyball
In most cases, fractures of the lower and upper jaw can be surgically treated. On some other occasions, the jawbone is significantly damaged, causing the teeth to come loose. In such a case, emergency tooth extraction is vital.
4. Overcrowded Teeth
Even if you don't have an infection, tooth extraction may be necessitated by dental crowding. When teeth are crowded, there is not enough space for your permanent teeth to grow straight. Hence, the teeth overlap each other and appear crooked.
If overcrowding of teeth is mild or moderate, it can be corrected through braces. However, there instances when dental crowding is severe, and braces may not help. The orthodontist may recommend extracting some teeth to create more space for the remaining teeth to grow straight.
If one of your teeth has been infected or injured beyond repair, extraction could be your only way out. Tooth extraction relieves pain and prevents other serious dental problems, such as gum infection, the spread of infection to other teeth, and even tumors.