There are times when it is necessary to remove a tooth. Sometimes a baby tooth has misshapen or long roots that prevent it from falling out as it should, and the tooth must be removed to make way for the permanent tooth to erupt. At other times, a tooth may have so much decay that it cannot be restored, and it puts the surrounding teeth at risk of decay or infection, so the dentist may recommend removal and replacement with a bridge or implant. Infection, orthodontic correction, or problems with a wisdom tooth can also require removal of a tooth.

The root(s) of each tooth is encased within the jawbone in a “socket,” and is held in that socket by a ligament. In order to extract a tooth, the dentist must expand the socket and separate the tooth from the ligament holding it in place. While this procedure is typically very quick, it is important to share with your dentist any concerns.

Once a tooth has been removed, neighboring teeth may shift, causing problems with chewing or with jaw joint function. To avoid these complications, the dentist will normally recommend that you replace the extracted tooth with a bridge or implant.