Having a tooth extracted in adulthood is sometimes necessary. Although permanent teeth were meant to last a lifetime, there are a number of reasons why tooth extractions may be needed.
A very common reason involves a tooth that is too badly damaged, from trauma or decay, to be repaired. Sometimes dentists remove teeth to prepare the mouth for orthodontics due to limited space.
If the tooth decay or damage extends to the pulp (the centre of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels) bacteria in the mouth can enter the pulp, leading to infection. Often this can be corrected with root canal therapy (RCT), but if the infection is so severe that antibiotics or RCT do not cure it, extraction may be needed to prevent the spread of infection.
If your immune system is compromised (for example, if you are receiving chemotherapy or are having an organ transplant), even the risk of infection in a particular tooth may be reason enough to remove the tooth.
If periodontal disease (an infection of the tissues and bone that surround and support the teeth) have caused loosening of the teeth, it may be necessary to the remove the tooth or teeth.
Although having a tooth extracted is usually very safe, the procedure can allow harmful bacteria into the bloodstream. Gum tissue is also at risk of infection.
If you have a condition that puts you at high risk for developing a severe infection, you may need to take antibiotics before and after the extraction. Before having a tooth removed, let your dentist know your complete medical history, the medications and supplements you take, and if you have one of the following:
- Damaged or man-made heart valve
- Congenital heart defect
- Impaired immune system
- Liver disease (cirrhosis)
- Artificial joint, such as a hip replacement
- History of bacterial endocarditis