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A dental extraction, sometimes referred to as exodontia, is the removal of a tooth from the mouth. Extractions are performed for a wide variety of reasons, including tooth decay that has destroyed enough tooth structure to prevent restoration. Extractions of impacted or problematic wisdom teeth are also routinely performed, as are extractions of some permanent teeth to make space for orthodontic treatment.
Reasons for tooth extraction
The most common reason for extracting a tooth is tooth damage due to breakage or decay. Some other possible reasons for tooth extraction are as follows:
- Extra teeth which are blocking other teeth from coming in.
- Severe gum disease which may affect the supporting tissues and bone structures of teeth.
- Severe tooth decay or infection.
- In preparation for orthodontic treatment (braces)
- Insufficient space for wisdom teeth (impacted wisdom teeth).
- Receiving radiation to the head and neck may require extraction of teeth in the field of radiation.
Types of extraction
Extractions are often categorized as “simple” or “surgical”.
Simple extractions are performed on teeth that are visible in the mouth, usually under local anaesthetic, and require only the use of instruments to elevate and/or grasp the visible portion of the tooth. Typically the tooth is lifted using an elevator, and subsequently using dental forceps, rocked back and forth until the periodontal ligament has been sufficiently broken and the supporting alveolar bone has been adequately widened to make the tooth loose enough to remove.
Surgical extractions involve the removal of teeth that cannot be easily accessed, either because they have broken under the gum line or because they have not erupted fully. In a surgical extraction the doctor may elevate the soft tissues covering the tooth and bone and may also remove some of the overlying and/or surrounding bone tissue with a drill or osteotome. Frequently, the tooth may be split into multiple pieces to facilitate its removal.
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