From Infection to Extraction: Is It Safe to Extract an Infected Tooth?

Dentist Blog

In the long distant past when dentistry was less advanced, there was no alternative but to extract infected teeth. Alarmingly, back in the 1600s, unqualified but experienced individuals would extract teeth with just a pair of pliers. However, as painful as it was, extracting a tooth in that manner would often save someone's life. 

Back then, tooth infections were around the sixth leading cause of death in London. The short answer to your question then is yes, it is safe—safer at least than leaving an infected tooth untreated. However, extraction is not always the answer, nor is it the preferred option of dentists. 

Dentists Try to Save Teeth

Dentists don't like having to extract teeth, at least, not if there is another alternative. Most dentists would prefer to perform a root canal on an infected tooth to remove the cause of the infection rather than the tooth itself. Restoration, not extraction, is their aim. 

However, sometimes this is not possible. For instance, dentists cannot restore badly fractured teeth. In addition, if an infection has progressed too, causing bone loss and severe pain, tooth extraction is the best course of treatment.

Medication May Come First

If the pain and swelling is severe, your dentist may first prescribe you with some anti-inflammatory medication and antibiotics before sending you home. Once the medication has taken effect and reduced the severity of the infection, the dentist can then proceed with the extraction. It might take a day or two for the medication to do its job. 

A dentist will not try to extract a tooth if the pain and swelling is so severe that it counteracts the local anaesthesia. 

Pericoronitis May Hinder Extraction

Pericoronitis is a condition that causes excess gum tissue to grow over a tooth. This condition often affects impacted wisdom teeth. However, it can also occur when a badly broken tooth becomes infected. Most dentists prefer not to proceed with the extraction if pericoronitis is present. 

The usual course of treatment is to first deal with the gum infection, using antibiotics, and then to remove any remaining gum tissue that might be covering the infected tooth. Once the dentist has removed the excess gum tissue, they can then carry out the extraction. 

If you have an infected tooth, don't wait for it to get better. The pus from the infection could leak into the surrounding bone, causing an abscess and severe swelling. 


10 July 2018

Unraveling Dental Myths about Children: A Blog for Parents

When I had my first child, I was a nervous wreck. Every book I read gave different advice, and I just wanted to be right! By the time I had my third child, some of the stress had abated. I now realised, there were tons of different perspectives on everything related to raising children including dentistry. To help parents, I have created this blog dedicated to unraveling dental myths about children. I am including posts that weigh both sides of issues such as thumb sucking, dental caries, breastfeeding, flossing and any other topic I can think of. I hope you find the information you need to unravel dental myths, but most importantly, I hope you find some peace of mind. With kids and dentistry, there can be more than one right answer, and I want you to be able to relax and go with the answer that's right for you.