Although permanent teeth were meant to last a lifetime, there are a number of reasons why tooth extraction may be needed.
- A very common reason involves a tooth that is too badly damaged, from trauma or decay, to be repaired.
- A crowded mouth. Sometimes dentists pull teeth to prepare the mouth for orthodontic treatment so that the remaining teeth can be properly aligned. If a tooth cannot break through the gum (erupt) because there is not enough room in the mouth for it, your dentist may recommend pulling it.
- Related, but slightly different, are problems and repeated infections caused by impacted wisdom teeth which just do not have sufficient space at the back of the mouth or may come through at a totally incorrect angle.
- Infection. If 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 treatment (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.
- Risk 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 pull the tooth.
- Periodontal (Gum) Disease. If periodontal disease — an infection of the tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth — have caused loosening of the teeth, it may be necessary to the pull the tooth or teeth. This is probably the largest cause of extractions in Ireland.
Permanent teeth are only permanent if you take great care of them and the supporting gums. This does not happen by accident. It needs the ongoing co-operation of dentist, hygienist and patient to ensure that permanent teeth live up to their name.