Studies show that approximately 60% of all Americans experience some level of fear-related distress before a dental visit. Whether it is anxiety over their sub-par dental hygiene routine or a full-blown phobia of dental work, knowing what to expect and understanding the decision-making process can help to give patients a sense of control when they enter their local dentist’s office. Deciding if you need an extraction can add to that anxiety.
Dental patients may experience anxiety before any number of basic dental procedures, but extractions remain one of the most fear-inducing processes for patients. Fortunately, it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. By finding a dentist you can trust, you can establish a rapport that will allow you to address your underlying fears and understand why an extraction is required.
Deciding on Extraction
Building a confident relationship with your dentist necessarily starts with you being open about your concerns. If your dentist suggests an extraction, ask them to explain their decision. Have a look at your x-rays, and don’t worry about appearing ignorant. Only a licensed dental health expert can definitively say whether or not a tooth can be saved.
However, you might find the process less stressful if you understand the basics. Having a layman’s comprehension of why an extraction may be necessary will help you to have a more intelligent conversation with your dentist and allow you to feel more comfortable with their decision.
In most cases, extractions are only performed when a root canal isn’t a viable option. We reserve root canals for teeth that have suffered severe damage but remain structurally sound. In these cases, your dentist is able to clean out the diseased pulp from the tooth, replace it with gutta-percha, and then cover the remaining tooth with a crown to help protect it.
If your dentist tells you that you need to have a tooth extracted, th
en they have already evaluated your tooth and decided that performing a root canal is not in your best interests. There are several reasons that this might be the case.
Why Extraction is Necessary
Infection to the nerve
If your tooth has decayed to a point where the nerve and surrounding blood vessels are infected, then your dentist may opt to pull the tooth. If the infection is minor, a root canal may still be possible, but this depends entirely on the extent of the infection. Severe infections can result in an abscess, so you shouldn’t procrastinate on receiving treatment.
Bone loss around the tooth
If your dentist sees bone loss around the tooth, then they are likely to recommend an extraction rather than a root canal. As bone loss can cause the teeth to be loose, it can make everyday functions painful for the patient. In these cases, extraction is the best way to keep you comfortable.
Teeth may also need to be extracted if deep fissures have formed across the tooth into the root. In most cases, these fractures are a result of traumatic injury. The placement of the fracture will determine whether we can repair the tooth.
Trusting the Experts
By understanding the factors that are most likely to determine your dentist’s decision to extract a tooth, you can reinforce your trust in their expertise. Dr. David Kao recognizes the importance of this trust and encourages patients to personally share their concerns regarding their care. Additionally, if you’re embarrassed by the idea of missing teeth, talk to Dr. Kao about dental implants or dentures. Regardless of your case, Dr. Kao will be able to recommend the most comfortable and realistic options for you.