It’s a modern horror story. A person goes to the dentist with a toothache and finds out that their only option is to have it extracted from their mouth. Most leave the dentist wondering “why does it have to be extracted?”
There are several reasons why someone might need a tooth extraction. This article will discuss the history of tooth extractions and modern-day extractions, as well as common causes for a tooth to be extracted.
By definition, tooth extraction is the action of removing teeth from the mouth. This is done by removing the entire tooth from the dental alveoli, which are the pockets in the jaw that hold the root of the teeth. The process of pulling teeth has been around for centuries. Neolithic skulls have shown evidence of attempts to drill away tooth decay.
In the 1400s, refined sugar drastically increased the amount of tooth decay, thus increasing the number of tooth extractions. Instead of having dentists remove the tooth, most extractions were left to the barbers! Tools called Pelicans, named due to their claw looking like a pelican’s teeth, to extract the decaying teeth.
Sadly, the tools regularly did more damage than good. Severe gum lacerations and even broken jawbones were commonly caused by the Pelican. A similar tool, called the tooth key, caused the same amount of damage.
The Civil War-era brought the introduction of forceps. It brought a new process to removing teeth by having a built-in drill that would loosen the root of the tooth while the forceps would pull out the tooth. In the early 1900s, traveling dentists would normally do extractions at local town fairs. Without anesthetic, the only way to stop the screaming was simply by having the band play louder!
Modern Day Procedures
With modern inventions and medications, tooth extraction is now a regularly performed procedure. Extraction is normally the last option in the treatment of teeth and is usually reserved for teeth that are simply unsalvageable.
The dentist will start by administering a local anesthetic to make sure that the tooth and surrounding tissue are numb. Then, the dentist will remove the tooth with modern-day forceps. Afterward, the patient will be given instructions on how to take care of the extraction site. Failure to follow the instructions could result in an infection.
The extraction of teeth is normally the last option after all other treatments have failed. There are multiple situations where there are no other options but to remove the tooth. Common causes for tooth extraction include things such as infection, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Tooth Decay and Infections
Dental cavities and infections are the most common reason for having a tooth removed, despite the preventative measures put in place by modern dentistry. Tooth decay happens when acids produced from the bacteria in your mouth begin to dissolve the hard tissue of the tooth.
Cavities can be multiple different colors, but the majority tend to be yellow or black. Common symptoms include pain and difficulty eating. If not treated properly, cavities can lead to extractions.
Dental infections normally present themselves as an abscess or a localized pocket of pus. Abscesses can be caused by things like a failed root-canal procedure, tooth decay, or broken teeth.
Symptoms include constant pain that is described to be extreme and sharp as well as significant swelling and aching on the side of the face where the infection is located. If antibiotics and root canal treatments fail, it is commonly suggested that the tooth be removed to prevent further complications.
Periodontal disease, otherwise referred to as gum disease, is an infection that affects the tissue that holds all of your teeth together. The two manifestations of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease. Gingivitis is most commonly caused by things like smoking, malnutrition, and bad oral hygiene habits.
When a person doesn’t brush their teeth, plaque builds up on the teeth and triggers an immune response from the body. This response from the body can begin to harm the gums, causing them to become red and inflamed.
Other symptoms are things like consistent bad breath, soft gums, and gums that easily bleed while brushing or flossing. Luckily, if gingivitis is caught early it can be treated with simple things like lifestyle changes and increased oral hygiene.
If gingivitis is not treated, it will advance to become periodontitis. Periodontitis occurs when the plaque on the teeth expands down below the gum line. The plaque irritates the gums and provokes a stronger inflammatory response from the body. The body begins to destroy the bones and tissues holding the teeth in place.
Teeth begin to separate from the gums, creating spaces between the teeth and the gums that can become infected. As the disease continues to advance, more gum and bone tissue are destroyed. Depending on the severity of the infection, extracting the infected teeth might be the only option.
Having teeth extracted was once a painful procedure. Thanks to modern tools and dentistry, extractions are now much less painful. Having a tooth extracted isn’t an ideal situation, but it is sometimes necessary to maintain the health of your mouth and prevent any further losses. The procedure is quick and will provide relief for severe dental issues. When necessary, it is the best option to save the rest of your teeth.