How Do I Know if I Should Save or Pull My Tooth?

When you're dealing with dental pain, you just want it to stop. Pulling teeth often seems like the quickest, easiest option. With advances in medical technology and understanding though, saving teeth is more possible than ever. In recent years, the Canadian Dental Association reports that the number of adults with no natural teeth has reduced by almost 17%. That means less and less people are losing teeth or having them pulled.

While the decision is ultimately up to you, arriving at a dental appointment informed and ready to listen can help you and your dentist make a better decision for a healthier smile.

When Pulling Teeth Is Best

Saving teeth is always preferable, but not always possible. When a tooth is cracked below the gum line or is weakened to an unsafe degree, extraction is frequently the answer. Common reasons to have a tooth pulled include:

  • Impaction. Your teeth are growing into each other causing pain and swelling. This often happens below the gum line resulting in bleeding and trouble opening your mouth. Wisdom teeth are leading causes for impaction.
  • Overcrowding. Like impaction, overcrowding is the result of teeth growing too close together. In this scenario, the cause for extraction isn't just pain, but an otherwise straight smile becoming crooked from tightly-grouped teeth.
  • Tooth Decay. If your teeth have been damaged by plaque buildup, severe cavities, or weakened enamel, tooth extraction may be required to prevent further pain or infection.
  • Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease. Gingivitis (mild gum disease) can lead to periodontitis (severe gum disease). This not only affects your gums, but the bones around your teeth. If left untreated, tooth extraction may be the only option to prevent further pain, swelling, bleeding and the spread of infection to other areas in your mouth, heart and lungs.
  • Trauma. This can be chipping or cracks as the result of physical activity.

These conditions don't necessarily require pulling teeth, but that's often the first option. Always consult your dentist and ask about alternative treatments that could save your tooth.

When Saving Teeth Is Best

By scheduling regular dental checkups, you increase the likelihood of saving your teeth. Many of the conditions listed above don't have to end with pulling teeth. If caught early, they can be fixed with crowns, fillings, or root canals, also known as endodontic treatment.

Don't let the phrase "root canal" send shivers down your spine. It's often associated with pain and infection, but in a joint study by leading Canadian healthcare associations, infections from root canals are much rarer than people think. Nowadays, pain can be managed by anesthesia or sedation.

In short, saving teeth is almost always an option with proper hygiene and regular checkups. For tooth trauma, cases end with saving teeth if you preserve it properly and receive quick medical attention. For more information on preserving lost or damaged teeth, visit the American Association of Endodontists' website for a helpful guide.

How Howe Dental Can Help

Whether you're worried about pulling teeth and replacing them, saving teeth or anything in between, Howe Dental provides comprehensive dental services and consultation. To save or enhance your natural teeth, schedule your next dental checkup in downtown Vancouver with us. With combined dentistry experience totaling decades, our team is more than happy and prepared to answer your dental questions and put you at ease during your visit.