There are times when it is necessary to remove a tooth. Sometimes a primary 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 puts the surrounding teeth and jaw at risk of decay, so your child’s dentist may recommend removal. Infection, orthodontic correction, or problems with a wisdom tooth can also require removal of a tooth.
When it is determined that a tooth needs to be removed, your child’s dentist may extract the tooth during a regular checkup or may request another visit for this procedure. The root of each tooth is encased within your child’s jawbone in a “tooth socket,” and the tooth 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 the dentist any concerns or preferences for sedation.
Once a tooth has been removed, neighboring teeth may shift causing problems with spacing. To avoid these complications, your child’s dentist may recommend placement of an appliance called a space maintainer (spacer). The space maintainer holds the space for the eruption of the permanent tooth.