Using this guide What's covered
What is a tooth extraction?
An extraction is a dental procedure where a tooth is permanently removed from its socket in the jawbone. In simple terms, there are two types of extractions, routine general extractions and surgical extractions.
Routine extractions are those where the tooth is visible in the mouth and easily grasped by forceps. These extractions are generally performed by general dentists, using local anaesthetic.
A surgical extraction is required for a tooth that has either not yet broken through the gum, or a tooth that has broken off at the gum line so can't be easily removed. Surgical extractions are performed by dentists with more advanced skills in this area.
Some surgical extractions can be done in the dental surgery. More complicated surgical extractions may have to be performed under a general anaesthetic in a day surgery or hospital. This level of surgery may be carried out by a suitably trained general dentist, oral surgeon or an oral and maxillo-facial surgeon (OMFS).
Why is it done?
Common reasons include:
Tooth fracture, gum disease or decay
Your dentist will try to repair the fractured or repaired tooth. If they can’t, the tooth may need to be extracted.
Wisdom teeth (third molars) come through either in your late teens or early twenties, although it can occur later in life. Sometimes there isn't enough room in the mouth for these teeth and they crowd the molar next to it, causing pain and swelling.
If one, or all, of the wisdom teeth become impacted (are unable to break through the gum) it can cause pain, gum infections and sometimes decay to the wisdom tooth and/or the adjacent molar. Other teeth, such as canine and other molars, can become impacted as well, causing the same problems.
Abscessed (infected) tooth
This is an infection of either the root of a tooth or between the gum and tooth. The most common causes are advanced tooth decay, a severely broken down tooth, or a tooth that's been affected or damaged by a severe trauma. The infection may be extremely painful. Your dentist will try to preserve the tooth by treating the infection, but if they can’t the tooth may have to be extracted.
An orthodontist may remove permanent or deciduous (baby) teeth to free up space for the teeth that are being moved into place.
Some people have extra (supernumerary) teeth. If they block other teeth from breaking through the gum, they may need to be extracted to free up space.
Where is it done?
Routine and minor surgical extractions are normally done at a dental surgery. If general anaesthetic is required the procedure is performed in either a day surgery or hospital.
How long does it take?
It depends on the number of teeth being extracted, as well as the reason for extraction.
Who is involved?
- An oral surgeon (for multiple or difficult extractions)
- A dentist (for simple extractions)
- Anaesthetist (to administer sedation)
- Specialised nurses (during the procedure and recovery)
Preparing for surgery
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