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. 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, so your doctor 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, typically the dentist will extract the tooth during a visit set aside for this procedure. The root of each tooth is encased within the jawbone in a "tooth socket." The tooth is held in that socket by a ligament. In order to extract a tooth, your 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 doctor any concerns or preferences for sedation.
Once a "baby" tooth has been removed, neighboring teeth may shift causing problems with chewing or with your jaw joint function. To avoid these complications, your dentist may recommend the placement of a space maintainer.