The teeth that come in after you lose all your milk teeth – your adult teeth – are meant to last you through your decades of adulthood. But lifestyle choices, accidents, disease – these can all affect how “permanent” your permanent teeth actually are. Getting your wisdom teeth taken out is one time where, yeah, tooth removal is actually the better choice. But usually, taking teeth out of your mouth is a last resort. Each of your teeth interacts with your gums, jaw, and other teeth. Each one is important in its place. And while amazing advances in dental technology, like dental implants, can replace teeth in a holistic and functional way, it’s always ideal to keep your own.
So, what are the most common reasons people get their teeth extracted? Let’s take a look:
- Overcrowding: This type of extraction most often happens before orthodontic work. For instance, if your kid needs braces but their mouth won’t have room once all the teeth are straight, an oral surgeon may remove a couple teeth to give the others room to move.
- Tooth decay: Cavities aren’t the worst thing that can happen when you don’t take care of your teeth; if your teeth become worn down enough, especially if the enamel is ruined, you’ll have to get them taken out.
- Gum Disease: Gum disease and tooth decay go hand-in-hand. As the gums become sick and pull away from the teeth, the tooth roots are exposed to the elements: your mouth, your food, your alcohol, etc. This means more risk of infection and/or decay, which means a higher chance of needing a severely damaged tooth removed.
- Facial Trauma: If you were in an accident of some sort, you may have messed up some teeth too much to repair them. Especially when a tooth has broken below the gum line, it’s important to remove any teeth that pose a threat to your healing.
Extracting a Tooth is a Last Resort
Dentists and oral surgeons do everything they can to save a tooth before they decide to extract it. Unfortunately, sometimes there’s just no other option. For instance, if a tooth is impacted, it leaves you susceptible to under-the-gum infections and it could push your other teeth around. That guy needs taken out. Or the case of facial trauma we talked about where a tooth breaks below the gum line – anything that leaves your tooth roots and/or nerve exposed has to be fixed ASAP, otherwise you could end up with infections, cysts, etc. The good news is, that while these two examples are instances you can’t control, in most cases, you have a lot of control over how long your smile stays whole and beautiful.
Ways to Avoid Losing Your Teeth and Needing Mouth Reconstruction
If dental implants are so cool, effective and a holistic way to replace your teeth, then why are we so worried about making sure we don’t lose our teeth in the first place? Well, first of all, like we said earlier, while dental implant surgery is an amazing, permanent way to replace teeth, they’re still not your teeth. And unless you’ve got a bunch of money sitting around and dental insurance we’ve never heard of, having a full mouth reconstruction of dental implants is, like, really expensive – even the way we do it at our practice. So here’s some basic dental hygiene tips we’re sure you’ve heard before – a quick “how-to” on doing your best to never need rotten teeth taken out of your mouth:
- Brush your teeth 2x/day and floss once a day. Also, mouthwash exists for a reason.
- See your dentist 2x/year and keep up on those yearly x-rays. And call your dentist or oral surgeon when something weird happens or something changes. Better safe than sorry.
- Avoid acidic and sugary foods – they eat away at your enamel.
- Don’t smoke. The list of reasons why is so long, we all know it by now – just don’t smoke.
Aside from accidents and “acts of god,” just keeping up on your oral self-care gives you the best chance possible of never needing a tooth extraction.